27 Aug STDs Reduced in Young Girls Through Telephone Counseling
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. DiClemente: In our study of 701 African American girls we observed significant and durable reductions in laboratory-confirmed sexually transmitted infections (50% reduction in chlamydial infections and a 60% reduction in gonorrhea) among girls in our intervention group relative to the comparison condition over a 36-month follow-up period. In addition, we observed significant increases in condom use during sex and reductions in sex while using drugs or alcohol. The key finding is the durability of the results – 3 years in the life of an adolescent is a long period.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. DiClemente: Unexpectedly, we observed a dose-response relation between telephone counseling contacts and Chlamydia incidence. To our knowledge, this is the first report in the sexual health literature of a dose-response relationship between a behavioral intervention (number of phone contacts) and a laboratory-confirmed biomarker (Chlamydia).
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. DiClemente: For clinicians the findings suggest careful and repeat screening of sexually active girls for STIs, careful and in depth assessment of girls’ risk practices, and providing brief counseling and referral to more extensive risk-reduction programs in the community. For parents the findings indicate that adolescents are engaging in high levels of HIV/STI-associated risk behaviors and a large proportion experience adverse health outcomes, such as STIs. This would suggest greater parental monitoring; knowing where their daughter is and with whom she is associating are importance strategies to reduce risk behaviors.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. DiClemente: Future research needs to test the utility of telephone-delivered counseling as a cost-effective strategy to sustain health protective behaviors across different populations, health risks and outcomes.