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Evidence-Based Programs

All Evidence-Based Programs

FOCUS: Preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections and Unwanted Pregnancies among Young Women

Overview of the Curriculum

Curriculum Objectives

The goal of this program is to provide a curriculum-based intervention to educate young people on issues such as responsible behavior, relationships, pregnancy and STD prevention and to promote healthy behavior and responsible decision making in the lives of young women.

FOCUS is suitable for use in group or class settings in clinics, community-based organizations, or schools/colleges. It should be noted, however, that the subject matter is mature and in some cases quite graphic in nature, and may not be appropriate for participants under the age of 16.

Curriculum Sessions

FOCUS is an eight-hour intervention consisting of four 2-hour sessions. The sessions are broken down into a varying number of discrete modules. Although there are interactive activities (e.g., role-play exercises, visualizations, etc.), the modules are constructed primarily around the PowerPoint slide sets, accompanied by lecture and augmented with discussion and other activities.

Session 1: Increase knowledge about unintended pregnancies and STDs including HIV/AIDS.

  • Modify values, beliefs, and attitudes that impact sexual behavior.

Session 2: Increase knowledge about hormonal and barrier contraceptives.

  • Build communication skills to prevent risky sexual behaviors and increase condom use.

Session 3: Increase knowledge about the signs, symptoms, and consequences of STDs/HIV/AIDS.

  • Increase knowledge about the transmission and prevention of STDs/HIV.
  • Build communication skills to prevent STDs/HIV.

Session 4: Modify attitudes about the effects of alcohol and its relationship to sexual risk behaviors.

  • Build refusal communication skills.
  • Build condom use skills.
  • Increase awareness about how life choices can impact decision-making and health.

Unique Features of the Curriculum

There is no cost for participating in the program, and each participant receives $50 gift card for completing the program. Participants are asked to complete two follow-up surveys at four months and 12 months and receive another $50 gift card for each survey they complete and return.

The grant was written in collaboration with Miami University's Department of Nursing. The program will be utilizing third year nursing students as "peer educators" to present the FOCUS curriculum to the participants. They will teach the program and act as role models for the participating teens. The nursing students will obtain credit for their service learning requirement and they will also benefit from the information learned throughout their professional careers.

Theoretical Framework

The primary theoretical underpinning of the intervention is a cognitive-behavioral approach, focusing on elements of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral model (IMB). Cognitive-behavioral therapy seeks to change a person's thinking and behaviors by educating the person and reinforcing positive experiences that will lead to fundamental changes in the way that person behaves. IMB posits that information is a prerequisite to risk-reduction behavior; motivation to change those behaviors determines prevention behaviors, and behavioral skills affect whether a knowledgeable, motivated individual will be able to change his or her behavior.

Ordering and Training Information

Ordering: You may order the program materials through Sociometrics Corporation:
Program Archive on Sexuality, Health, and Adolescence (PASHA)
Sociometrics Corporation
170 State Street, Suite 260
Los Altos, CA 94022-2812
Tel. (650) 949-3282
Fax (650) 949-3299

The Program Archive on Sexuality, Health, and Adolescence (PASHA), funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of Adolescent Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, is a collection of effective program replication kits designed to reduce teen pregnancy and STI/HIV/AIDS in adolescents.

Training: Consult with Sociometrics about training possibilities.

Evaluation Fact Sheet


FOCUS is an eight-hour intervention consisting of four two-hour sessions. The goal of this program is to provide curriculum-based intervention to educate young people on issues such as responsible behavior, relationships, and pregnancy and STD prevention and to promote healthy behavior and responsible decision making in the lives of young women.

Behavioral Findings

When post-intervention STDs and unintended pregnancies were combined into a single outcome variable, a significant effect was observed (P = .043). A significantly higher proportion of the control group (23.9%) than the experimental group (17.9%) tested positive for either an STD or an unintended pregnancy (OR = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.01-1.98).

Among study participants who had no pre-intervention history of STDs or pregnancy, but who reported having engaged in risky sexual behaviors in the month before starting recruit training, the control group was significantly more likely (21.8%) than the experimental group (8.0%) to acquire a post-intervention STD (OR = 3.25, 95% CI = 1.74-6.03).

Overall, the intervention was effective in reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies and in reducing STD transmission among the women in the intervention group as compared with their control group counterparts. Intervention participants were also less likely to report having either multiple or casual sex partners.

Research Design

The randomized, controlled, behavioral intervention trial of the FOCUS program was conducted between 1999 and 2000, when all female Marine Corps recruits (n = 2,288) were approached for voluntary enrollment in the program. Of these young women, 2,157 (94.3%) agreed to participate in the study; 1,062 (49%) were assigned to the experimental condition, and 1,095 (51%) were assigned to the control condition. Most participants (55.9%) self-identified as Caucasian; 19.7% were Latina; 16.1% were African American; 3.1% were Asian/Pacific Islander; 2.5% were Native American; and 2.6% were mixed or other. Slightly more than 90% of the sample population was 21 years of age or younger, with over 50% being 17 or 18 years old. Those agreeing to participate provided written informed consent.

Follow-up instruments were completed at approximately four months post-baseline (after their first three-week leave following completion of recruit training), and approximately 14 months post-baseline.


Boyer, C.B., Shafer, M-A., Shaffer, R.A., Brodine, S.K., Pollack, L.M., Betsinger, K., Chang, Y.J., Kraft, H.S., Schachter, J. 2005. Evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral, group, randomized controlled intervention trial to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies in young women. Preventive Medicine, 40, 420-431.