Reducing Teen Births among Latinas: A Pilot RCT to Test the Effectiveness of Radio Messages
Despite the long-term decline in adolescent pregnancy rates, adolescent pregnancy remains an important policy issue in the United States. In 2011, teen births accounted for 8.4% of all births and 18.4% of all nonmarital births (Martin et al. 2013, 22). Santelli and Melnikas (2010, p.1) contend that “[t]een childbearing is associated with adverse health and social outcomes for teen mothers and their children.” Solomon-Fears (2013, p.4) points out that “Teenage mothers and fathers tend to have less education and are more likely to live in poverty than their peers who are not teen parents”; their children, too, are disadvantaged compared to children of older parents––they are more reliant on public benefits, are comparatively overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, experience employment problems later in life, and are more likely to become teenage parents. Estimates of the resulting national cost of teen pregnancy are high––at least $7 billion and as much as $10.9 billion annually (Pinkleton, et al. 2008, Hamilton and Ventura 2012).
The problems associated with teen pregnancy are particularly acute for Hispanics. In 2011, there were 46.6 births per 1,000 Hispanic 15 to 19 year old girls; the comparable rate among non-Hispanics was 26.5 births (Martin et al. 2013, pp.29-30). The purpose of this study is to examine whether rates of teen births can be reduced in a cost effective manner by a mass media campaign targeting Hispanics. Although efforts to reduce teen pregnancy have been evaluated by dozens of studies, including several randomized trials, to date no media based interventions have been evaluated using RCTs. Drawing on lessons from previous evaluations, we propose to develop and evaluate a messaging campaign aimed at listeners of Spanish-language radio.