Parent-based adolescent sexual health interventions and effect on communication outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analyses

Diane Santa Maria, Christine Markham, Shirley Bluethmann, Patricia Dolan Mullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: Parent-based adolescent sexual health interventions aim to reduce sexual risk behaviors by bolstering parental protective behaviors. Few studies of theory use, methods, applications, delivery and outcomes of parent-based interventions have been conducted. METHODS: A systematic search of databases for the period 1998-2013 identified 28 published trials of U.S. parent-based interventions to examine theory use, setting, reach, delivery mode, dose and effects on parent-child communication. Established coding schemes were used to assess use of theory and describe methods employed to achieve behavioral change intervention effects were explored in meta-analyses. RESULTS: Most interventions were conducted with minority parents in group sessions or via self-paced activities; interventions averaged seven hours, and most used theory extensively. Meta-analyses found improvements in sexual health communication: Analysis of 11 controlled trials indicated a medium effect on increasing communication (Cohen's d, 0.5), and analysis of nine trials found a large effect on increasing parental comfort with communication (0.7); effects were positive regardless of delivery mode or intervention dose. Intervention participants were 68% more likely than controls to report increased communication and 75% more likely to report increased comfort. CONCLUSIONS: These findings point to gaps in the range of programs examined in published trials-for example, interventions for parents of sexual minority youth, programs for custodial grandparents and faith-based services. Yet they provide support for the effectiveness of parent-based interventions in improving communication. Innovative delivery approaches could extend programs' reach, and further research on sexual health outcomes would facilitate the meta-analysis of intervention effectiveness in improving adolescent sexual health behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-50
Number of pages14
JournalPerspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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