Study sees benefits in a new technology-delivered intervention that is designed to foster consistent and correct safe-sex practices.
Planned Parenthood’s extensive digital Chat/Text sex education program has a significant impact on people’s health behaviors—including increasing health center visits, the use of condoms in addition to another method of birth control (“dual use”), and interest in the most effective methods of birth control—according to a new study from the New York University Silver School of Social Work’s Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).
In the study released today, CLAFH researchers conducted an evaluation of the program. The evaluation included 3,334 sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 24. Each respondent was randomized into either the Chat/Text group, a group that viewed the Planned Parenthood website, or a community sample group that included no intervention.
"Having behavioral outcomes as the result of a brief technology-delivered intervention is very unusual and the magnitude of the effects is quite impressive,” said NYU Silver School Professor Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, PhD, MPH, LCSW, RN, the study’s principal investigator and a professor and co-director of CLAFH. “In the study, there was a high bar for showing a difference between the Chat/Text experimental arm and PPFA website control group, as there is excellent information on accessing health center visits and sexual and reproductive health on the Planned Parenthood website.”
According to the findings, presented at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting in late October, the Chat/Text program supports 17,000 individualized conversations every month—responding to concerns related to birth control, emergency contraception, STDs, pregnancy, and abortion. Over the past six years, Planned Parenthood has conducted more than 650,000 conversations through their Chat/Text program—making it the largest program of its kind in the United States.
The Chat/Text program immediately connects users to trained health educators, who provide tailored guidance based on each user’s questions and needs. Each interaction not only provides sexual health information but also incorporates insights from behavioral science to help users engage in behaviors that will improve their overall sexual and reproductive health.
“Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program is unique in utilizing behavioral science in each interaction to help users create a plan to take the next right step to improve their health. Usually, that includes accessing sexual and reproductive health care services in their community,” says Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH, Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
NYU’s rigorous evaluation of Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program demonstrates the true efficacy of the program and the measureable difference it is making in the following health behaviors of its users:
Health Center Visits: Chat/Text users are significantly more likely to seek care at a health center compared to those seeking sexual health information through the Planned Parenthood website. More than 33 percent of Chat/Text users went to a health center within 10 days of their conversation, compared to 26 percent of those who visited the website alone. And within 90 days, nearly 56 percent of Chat/Text users had visited a health center, compared to 43 percent of website users.
Condom Use: Chat/Text users were also significantly more likely to use condoms in addition to other forms of birth control, reducing risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections. Within 90 days, nearly 24 percent of Chat/Text users reported using a condom along with other forms of birth control (dual use), compared to 19 percent of website-only users.
LARC Use: Finally, Chat/Text users are significantly more familiar with the IUD and implant—and more willing to use them. In fact, more than 73 percent of Chat/Text users were familiar with these methods after using the program compared to just 65 percent from the control group.
The Chat/Text program is available 91 hours a week and can be accessed via the Planned Parenthood website or by texting PPINFO (774636).
The Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) is a research center at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. The center investigates the role of the Latino family in shaping the development and well-being of Latino adolescents. Visit www.clafh.org
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With over 650 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Visit https://www.plannedparenthood.org