iTP3 builds lasting framework for teen pregnancy prevention programs

Group working during iTP3 training

Written by: Heather Gillin (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: May 23, 2018

May is teen pregnancy prevention month. It is also one of the last months of funding for the Innovative Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (iTP3). Dr. Kelly Wilson, principal investigator and health education associate professor, says their grant funded research built the framework for implementing effective teen pregnancy prevention programs across the nation.

“From a public health education standpoint, this framework will have a huge impact on teen pregnancy prevention. Also, recognizing that innovation happens before adoption, is an important takeaway from our research,” Dr. Wilson said.

In 2015, the project received funding from a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health. Although the grant was cut two years short, Dr. Wilson said that iTP3 made significant advances in the field that will continue to benefit teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Over the past three years, iTP3 worked with 20 teams across the U.S. in the healthcare, community-based organization, national organization and health department settings to develop innovative teen pregnancy prevention programs.

The programs shift the focus from individual responsibility to changing systems in communities with innovative approaches. Dr. Wilson recently visited a site in Tarboro, North Carolina that is currently implementing an innovative, educational challenge.

Tarboro program Michael’s Angels Girls Club developed a game similar to the Amazing Race to reduce stigma surrounding sexual health topics and healthcare providers. The game sends girls on a hunt for clues at local destinations, such as the county health department.

“They also have an adult advocate at each of those sites,” Dr. Wilson said. “That adult advocate is another connection to the community, and someone trustworthy that the girls can go to, to get information regarding sexual health.”

Dr. Wilson said a key component of the program framework for iTP3 was successful implementation of evidence-based programs.

“The evidence-based programs have gone through rigorous evaluation and have been deemed eligible for the evidence-based list. These are extremely important, because we know that these have been tested to be effective in preventing these unwanted risks,” Dr. Wilson said.

Inclusion in innovation

iTP3 supports innovative programs in areas that are underserved and marginalized in hopes of reducing the risk for teen pregnancy that would otherwise be prevalent in communities. Two iTP3 programs are focused specifically on teen pregnancy prevention for homeless youth and teens with disabilities.

The program targeting teens with disabilities includes individuals with disabilities on their advisory board to provide insight during program development. The board members ensure teens with disabilities are receiving accessible, accurate information regarding to sexual health as it pertains to their needs.

Dr. Wilson emphasized iTP3’s success is largely due to innovative leaders in each program that are willing to use a systems-level approach and design thinking to create effective, original programs.

“Another success is the ability to utilize strategies and methodologies that are common in other fields. Our human-centered design thinking and systems-level thinking has really pushed the envelope of programs that are being developed that will impact, not only individuals, but communities as well,” Dr. Wilson said.

To learn more about how iTP3 is impacting communities visit their website here. Check out their Facebook and Twitter.