Intended for healthcare professionals


Evaluation of Talking Parents, Healthy Teens, a new worksite based parenting programme to promote parent-adolescent communication about sexual health: randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 10 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a308
  1. Mark A Schuster, chief of general paediatrics and vice chair for health policy research124,
  2. Rosalie Corona, assistant professor34,
  3. Marc N Elliott, senior statistician24,
  4. David E Kanouse, senior behavioural scientist 24,
  5. Karen L Eastman, research affiliate4,
  6. Annie J Zhou, associate quantitative analyst 24,
  7. David J Klein, full quantitative analyst 24
  1. 1Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
  2. 2RAND, Santa Monica, CA 90407
  3. 3Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284
  4. 4UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095
  1. Correspondence to: M A Schuster, Children’s Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115 mark.schuster{at}
  • Accepted 2 May 2008


Objective To evaluate a worksite based parenting programme—Talking Parents, Healthy Teens—designed to help parents learn to address sexual health with their adolescent children.

Design Randomised controlled trial (April 2002-December 2005).

Setting 13 worksites in southern California.

Participants 569 parents completed baseline surveys at work, gave permission for confidential surveys to be posted to their adolescent children, and were randomised to intervention or control groups. Parents and adolescents completed follow-up surveys at one week, three months, and nine months after the programme.

Intervention Talking Parents, Healthy Teens consists of eight weekly one hour sessions at worksites for parents of adolescent children in 6th-10th grade (about ages 11-16 years).

Main outcome measures Parent-adolescent communication about a list of sexual topics; whether parent taught adolescent how to use a condom; ability to communicate with parent/adolescent about sex; openness of parent-adolescent communication about sex.

Results Differences between intervention and control groups were significant for the mean number of new sexual topics that parents and adolescents reported discussing between baseline and each follow-up (P<0.001 for each); intervention parents were less likely than controls to discuss no new topics (8% v 29%, 95% confidence interval for difference 16% to 24%) and more likely to discuss seven or more new topics (38% v 8%, 19% to 41%) at nine months. Some differences increased after completion of the programme: at one week after the programme, 18% of adolescents in the intervention group and 3% in the control group (6% to 30%) said that their parents had reviewed how to use a condom since baseline (P<0.001); this grew to 29% v 5% (13% to 36%) at nine months (P<0.001). Compared with controls at nine months, parents and adolescents in the intervention group reported greater ability to communicate with each other about sex (P<0.001) and more openness in communication about sex (P<0.001).

Conclusions A worksite based programme can have substantial effects on communication between parents and adolescents about sexual health.

Trial registration Clinical Trials NCT00465010.


  • We thank Rosa-Elena Garcia and the RAND Survey Research Group for data collection; Elaine Quiter, Diane Schoeff, and Katherine Vestal for project coordination; Susan Park and Gillian Smith for research assistance; Kate Sommers-Dawes, Scott Stephenson, and Katherine Woolsey for manuscript assistance; Laura Bogart and Steven Martino of RAND for comments on a draft of the manuscript; the programme’s facilitators and assistant facilitators; and other UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion staff who helped in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the programme. We also thank the centre’s community advisory board and scientific advisory board for their guidance, the study worksites for their assistance, and the study participants for sharing their time and experiences.

  • Contributors: All authors made substantial contribution to conception, design, analysis, and interpretation of data. MAS, RC, and MNE drafted the article, and all authors were involved in revising it critically for important intellectual content and final approval. MAS is guarantor.

  • Funding: Grant R01 MH61202 from the National Institute of Mental Health and cooperative agreements U48/CCU915773 and U48/DP000056 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethical approval: The institutional review boards of RAND and the University of California, Los Angeles approved the study protocol.

  • Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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