"Effects of Church-Based Parent–Child Abstinence-Only Interventions on Adolescents' Sexual Behaviors." Journal of Adolescent Health, 2020.

Loretta S. Jemmott, John B. Jemmott III, Larry D. Icard, Janet Hsu
Research Area: 


The aim of the study was to evaluate the efficacy of faith-based and nonfaith-based parent–child abstinence-only interventions in reducing sexual risk behavior among young African American adolescents.


Randomized controlled trial recruiting 613 African American parent–adolescent dyads from urban African American Baptist churches and randomizing them to one of three parent–child interventions: faith-based abstinence-only intervention emphasizing delaying or reducing sexual intercourse drawing on Biblical scriptures; nonfaith-based abstinence-only emphasizing intervention delaying or reducing sexual intercourse without referencing scriptures; or attention-matched control intervention targeting health issues unrelated to sexual behavior. Primary outcome was the self-reported frequency of condomless sexual intercourse in the past 3 months assessed periodically through 18 months postintervention. Secondary outcomes were frequency of sexual intercourse, number of sexual partners, consistent condom use and, among sexually inexperienced adolescents, sexual debut.


Generalized estimating equations analyses revealed that nonfaith-based abstinence-only intervention reduced the frequency of condomless sexual intercourse, frequency of sexual intercourse, and number of sexual partners compared with the attention-matched control intervention, whereas faith-based abstinence-only intervention did not. Neither intervention affected consistent condom use or sexual debut.


Parent-child abstinence-only interventions can reduce condomless sexual intercourse among young African American adolescents in church settings. Linking the abstinence message to Biblical scriptures may not be efficacious.