WSTDtv: Adolescent Multimedia STD Prevention Curriculum

Period of Performance: 08/01/2008 - 07/31/2009

$327K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Academic Edge, Inc.
Bloomington, IN 47408
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Sexually active adolescents have the highest rates of STD of any age group. The WSTDtv project addresses the need for a readily available, developmentally appropriate, engaging, and effective HIV/STD awareness and prevention curriculum for schools. By combining multimedia activities, web-based resources, and electronic and print teacher support tools and strategies, WSTDtv will deliver a set of activities from which adolescents are able to learn facts and science about HIV/STD, ways to deal with pressures and influences related to sexual activity in their daily lives, and the skills necessary to reduce their level of risk. Phase 1 developed a significant prototype CD-ROM, web site, and teacher's guide. The preliminary CD-ROM is of commercial quality, as exhibited by the multiple industry awards it received, even in its prototype form. In a pre-post pilot evaluation (n=41), the interactive activities were found to significantly increase adolescent knowledge, to affect targeted attitudes in the desired direction, and to significantly exceed target usability, interest, and usefulness benchmarks. In an evaluation of the teacher's guide, web site, and CD-ROM by middle school teachers (n=17), the teachers were overwhelmingly positive about the product. These results are noteable, even more so considering they were obtained with a Phase 1 prototype which, while extensive, was limited in the number and range of activities, the scope of content, and the opportunities for direct training in and practice with risk-reducing and interpersonal skills. In Phase 2, existing modules will be refined and expanded. New modules on STD facts, risk factors, and prevention skills building will be produced. The web site will be enhanced to include search mechanisms and additional content directly linked to individual modules. Mechanisms for teacher-friendly online "booster" modules and inter-class collaboration will be created, including login architecture, web conferencing, online voting, and other features. The teachers guide will be extended and additional teacher support tools designed. Phase 2 will be evaluated through six stages of focus groups, through in-depth review by a nationally recognized advisory panel, and through a randomized controlled product evaluation. Also during Phase 2, marketing and distribution plans and agreements will be finalized. The 2005 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 46.8% of high school students had had sexual intercourse during their life and that 33.9% of them had engaged in sexual intercourse with one or more persons during the three months preceding the survey. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the United States each year and that almost half of them occur in 15 to 24 year olds (2004). There is little doubt that teens are sexually active and that many of them are engaging in unsafe sexual practices. Schools are an ideal venue for health promotion and disease prevention programs, and most adolescents receive at least a minimum amount of sexuality or HIV education; however, in general it is believed that STD/HIV curricula are not as effective as they could be (Kirby,2002). Interactive media offers new ways for delivering STD/HIV prevention content-ways that can be attractive to both teachers and students. A readily available, research-based, and theory driven set of innovative and engaging interactive activities, tools, and resources should be very well-received by students, teachers, schools, and local educational authorities and will fill an important gap in public health education. Intended to address this gap, the effort proposed herein describes the development of WSTDtv - an STD/HIV curriculum for use by teachers in middle school and early secondary school classrooms.