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Youth Development Behavioral Interventions Coordinated with Work or Vocational Training to Reduce Sexual Risk Behaviors in Adolescents

Youth development behavioral interventions employ a holistic approach to adolescent health and wellness, and may or may not include components that are focused directly on pregnancy and STI prevention. These interventions emphasize:

  • Social, emotional, or cognitive competence training that promotes pro-social norms
  • Improved decision making
  • Self-determination
  • Improved communication skills
  • Positive bonding experiences between youth and their peers or non-parental role models

Work or vocational training experience includes opportunities in business; health; auto mechanics and repair; heavy equipment operation; or paid work at day camps, child care centers, and parks and recreation programs. This experience provides opportunities for adolescents to interact with adults in the work place and aims to assist them in forming a positive adult identity, as well as a sense of responsibility, dependability, and punctuality.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force finds insufficient evidence to support youth development behavioral interventions coordinated with employment or vocational training to reduce sexual risk behaviors among adolescents. Evidence is considered insufficient because effect estimates were small and inconsistent across the body of evidence.

All of the interventions evaluated in this review included sexual behavior or risk reduction content as part of the behavioral intervention, although the emphasis on this component varied. The Task Force acknowledges that this review, focused on the subset of intervention studies that evaluated change in sexual risk behavior outcomes, does not provide a complete, systematic assessment of all of the evidence regarding overall effectiveness of these combined approaches.

Results of the Systematic Reviews

Five studies qualified for the review.

  • The included studies targeted recruited adolescents (ages 10–19 years), had some sexual risk reduction content, and had to include sexual risk behavior outcomes.
  • Self-reported pregnancy: median decrease of 0.8% (interquartile interval:-42% to 4%) among program participants (5 studies)
  • Self-reported sexual risk behaviors: mixed results (4 studies)
  • Five additional studies examined the relationship between work intensity and problem behaviors. In general, problem behaviors were associated with working more than 20 hours per week, which suggests that students who maintain higher intensity work schedules (i.e. more than half-time) during school are more likely to experience problems with emotional distress, substance abuse, and sexual risk behaviors.

These results were based on a systematic review of all available studies, conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice and policy related to adolescent sexual behavior and youth development.

Economic Evidence

An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because the Task Force did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.

Supporting Materials

Publication Status

Full peer-reviewed articles of this systematic review will be posted on the Community Guide website when published. Subscribe External Web Site Icon to be notified when we post these publications or other materials. See our library for previous Community Guide publications on this and other topics.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Guide to Community Preventive Services. Youth development behavioral interventions coordinated with work or vocational training to reduce sexual risk behaviors in adolescents. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: April 2008