The goal of this project was to scientifically evaluate the effectiveness of Circle of Life--a sexual risk reduction intervention designed specifically for Native youth--in reducing the probability of behavior resulting in pregnancy. The project partnered with Native Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northern Plains, located on highly rural tribal reservations areas. This project used a group-randomized design to assess the impact of a computerized, multimedia Circle of Life (mCOL) curriculum on the sexual risk behavior of 10-14 year-olds enrolled in after-school programs at the Native Boys and Girls clubs. Circle of Life is an evidence-based and theory-based innovative intervention the uses familiar symbols, stories, and ways of learning to build knowledge and skills to bring about behavior change in Native youth. In addition, the project included substantial focus on process and implementation parameters to ensure efficient adaptation and replication in similar settings.
ORBIS Associates, with assistance and input from:
Circle of Life was translated into a web-based program called multimedia Circle of Life (mCOL). Teacher’s guidance and training materials were developed for access via internet resources (e.g., YouTube training videos). Four of 8 mCOL units implemented 100% of online chapters and 100% of class activities. Across all mCOL units, 71% of possible activities were completed. At the individual level, only 30% of youth in the mCOL arm at baseline completed 70% of the program, mainly due to high attrition. We tested the effect of receiving mCOL on psychosocial and behavioral precursors to sex in this young adolescent population. Compared with the control group, youth who received mCOL scored significantly higher on HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) knowledge questions at both 3-month and 9-month follow-ups; self-efficacy to avoid peer pressure and self-efficacy to avoid sex were significantly higher at posttest; self-perceived volition was significantly higher at 9-month follow-up; and no differences were found for behavioral precursors to sex. mCOL had modest effects on precursors to sexual behavior, which may lead to less risky sexual behavior in later years. Qualitative data from mCOL unit program staff and youth suggest the program was highly regarded.
mCOL and supporting materials are available for free on the HealthyNativeYouth portal.