Document Type


Associated Faculty

Dr. Valerie Herbert

Sponsoring Academic Department

School of Nursing

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

The subject of what should be taught in our classrooms is hotly debated, especially as it relates to sexual health. The United States has no national requirements for sexual education, leaving individual states and municipalities to decide how they will approach this topic. The two most prevalent curriculums are currently abstinence-only education (AOE) and comprehensive sexual education (CSE). These authors pose the question: in female adolescents aged 10-19 years old, how effective is comprehensive sexual education compared to abstinence-only education in the prevention of unintended pregnancies (UP)? A literature search was conducted on CINAHL, OneSearch, Nursing Reference Center Plus, and Google Scholar using the following search terms: pregnan*, sex*, educat*, abstinen*, adol*, comprehensive. A total of 10 articles met inclusion criteria. The evidence is mixed for the effectiveness of CSE, with only some evidence to suggest it reduces UP. The literature found that AOE was ineffective since many of the adolescents who intended to practice abstinence failed to do so; these adolescents were then less likely to use contraception because they lacked the appropriate knowledge. Limitations of this review include variations in the implementation of CSE across the literature. Based on these findings, there is strong support that integrating a CSE program that fosters comprehensive discussions regarding pregnancy, contraception, and healthy sexual relationships can reduce UP by increasing knowledge and awareness in adolescents.


post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing with all author corrections and edits)

Included in

Nursing Commons