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CLAFH's Families Talking Together Identified as an Effective, Evidence-Based Intervention by the US Department of Health and Human Services

August 18, 2014

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has named Families Talking Together (FTT) a program effective in reducing teen sexual risk behavior. FTT was developed by Professors Vincent Guilamo-Ramos and James Jaccard of NYU Silver’s Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) and Patricia Dittus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FTT—given HHS’s highest rating—is a family-based intervention designed for Latino and African Americans to support effective parent-adolescent communication and delay early sexual behavior. Targeted for adolescents aged 11 to 14, FTT helps parents open a dialogue about sex and preventing pregnancy. It is grounded in previous research that has identified three parenting practices—parent-adolescent communication, relationship quality, and monitoring and supervision—as key factors to supporting healthy adolescent sexual behavior. The FTT intervention and training is available in both English and Spanish by emailing clafh@nyu.edu.

This year, HHS launched a website to provide information on evidence-based programs that demonstrate significant positive impacts in reducing teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and teen sexual risk behavior. The website provides users resources to learn about evidence-based program models that may be a good fit for their community. All programs deemed effective undergo rigorous analysis by HHS, including a review of supporting research studies that meet established HHS criteria for the quality and execution of research designs.

In an effort to evaluate FTT’s impact, Guilamo-Ramos, Jaccard, and a team of researchers conducted a randomized control trial of 264 African American and Latino mothers and their adolescents at a community-based health care clinic in the Bronx. Half of the mothers and teens participated in the FTT intervention—delivered initially at the clinic by a social work interventionist—and the other half in the standard care offered by the clinic. The CLAFH team found that teens engaged in FTT were significantly less likely to report having sexual intercourse nine months later. Specifically, sexual activity increased from 6 percent to 22 percent for young adults in the control group, but it remained at 6 percent among young adults using FTT.

CLAFH has partnered with The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy to deliver FTT to Latino families in three counties in California’s Central Valley. CLAFH and The National Campaign trained local community health workers familiar with the communities and their cultural nuances to work with families and teach them how to use FTT. After a successful initial pilot, The National Campaign and CLAFH have extended the FTT dissemination project more widely to community health workers in additional California counties. This initiative is supported in part by The California Wellness Foundation.

CLAFH has also expanded FTT to the Dominican Republic through support from the MAC AIDS Fund. The Dominican Republic is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. CLAFH is now piloting a new version of FTT tailored to the specific conditions in the Dominican Republic—high levels of poverty, sex tourism, HIV disease burden, and high exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Type: Article