Almost half of all adolescent girls are confronted with undesirable sexual behaviors, such as unwanted sexual comments, advances, or behaviors that cause them harm. Many sexuality education programs are primarily aimed at increasing resilience in girls, in order to decrease the risk of them becoming the victim of undesirable sexual behaviors, and in turn prevent sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy, and trauma (e.g., “Girls’ Talk” by Rutgers). However, program components specifically targeting those youth who are most at risk of performing undesirable sexual behaviors (i.e., adolescent boys and young adult men) are typically scarce.
Hereto in 2014, Rutgers developed “Make a Move” (MaM), a gender-specific prevention program about sexuality and relationships for adolescent boys (12-18 years) in lower secondary education. This program aims to prevent undesirable sexual behaviors and promote boys’ overall psychosexual health, through increasing knowledge, skills, self-esteem, and promoting positive attitudes, intentions, and self-efficacy in sexual interactions. A first effectiveness study on MaM showed modest effects on the targeted outcomes, possibly partly due to some observed obstacles in the implementation process. Based on this study, the program content, and the instructions for the trainers, have been adapted. It is important to assess how these changes have affected (quality of) program delivery and its outcomes, and –furthermore- to address methodological obstacles that occurred in the previous study. Hereto, in the current project, besides program effectiveness on adolescent outcomes we will also assess the quality of program delivery through a mixed-methods assessment of dosage, trainers skills, and program integrity. Moreover, although the prior effectiveness study gave us insight into the overall effectiveness of the program, it did not yet assess how it works, for whom, and under which circumstances. Yet, this type of information is crucial since this will help us better understand the empirical findings and translate them in a more targeted way into policy and practice.
After the development of MaM, Rutgers recently developed an adapted version, “Make a Move+”, to accommodate the specific needs of adolescent boys and young adult men (14-21 years) with mild intellectual disabilities (MID, IQ between 50-75). The quality of the delivery and the effectiveness of MaM+, however, has not yet been assessed. It is important to test the delivery and effectiveness of this adjusted program separately from the original program (MaM), since MaM+ uses different content and didactic techniques, and the results on program effectiveness in a general at-risk population (i.e., adolescent boys in lower education) may not fully generalize to adolescent boys and young adult men with MID.
The main goal of this project is, therefore, to assess (1) whether and (2) how, for whom, and under what circumstances the prevention programs MaM (boys aged 12-18 years) and MaM+ (boys/men aged 14-21 years with MID) are effective. We have designed a state-of-the-art, convergent, parallel, mixed methods study to assess program delivery and outcomes of both MaM and MaM+. We will combine a wait-list randomized controlled trial (RCT) and a realistic evaluation (RE), making use of the strengths of both quantitative (i.e., questionnaires and structured observations) and qualitative (i.e., interviews and ethnographic observations) methods. The data will be used in triangulation, both methods will obtain different but complementary data on the same concepts to produce a more holistic picture of the program outcomes and to best understand the outcomes. This allows us to test the effectiveness of these programs with scientific rigour, increase our understanding of how these programs work, and at the same time maximize the usability and relevance of the results for policy and practice. With this, important contributions will be made to the prevention of undesirable sexual behaviors and the promotion of boys’ (and girls’) psychosexual heal