Research has countlessly shown that although adolescents may be taught the technical information regarding HIV and STI transmission and prevention, their high susceptibility to social influence keeps them at a high risk of contraction (Dunlap et al., 2017). Through the transformative power of the arts and by capitalizing on peer educators to internally shift youth culture around sex and relationships, AMP! aims to bridge the gap between the retention of medically accurate information and the practice of safe(r) sex. Our program thereby seeks to not only increase the memorability and social relevance of sexual health information, but also reinforce sex as a pleasurable act of the human experience, in all of its diversity.
As it expands from Los Angeles to North Carolina and beyond, AMP! continues to produce ample conversation among artists, education officials, and public health leaders (Heitfeld, 2014) . A study conducted in 2011 by the UCLA School of Education revealed highly impressive results about AMP’s success. The study consisted of a sample of 110 program participants who completed surveys before and after our intervention. On average, our participants were more likely to retain information related to HIV transmission, prevention methods, testing, and also showed improved attitudes towards those living with HIV (Gere, 2010).
An incomparable benefit of arts-based, peer interventions is their impact on performance and audience members alike. A study directly exploring the experience of undergraduate student peer educators found that they, too, left the intervention with increased knowledge about HIV and sexual health, different attitudes around sex, higher artistic development, and a clearer idea of their own career goals and future plans (Dunlap et al., 2017). This was measured as specific changes in the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors they displayed on surveys, interviews, and focus groups taken before and after the intervention. Having been asked to question their previous beliefs and their source, many undergraduate peer educators reported an increased comfort in talking about sex, a greater acceptance of their own sexual choices and personal views, as well as an emotional and artistic growth that lended itself to future advocacy work. Perhaps most importantly, many desired to increase the number of spaces that allow individuals to pose, develop, and answer rich questions around sex and relationships in a stigma-free manner.
A qualitative study using in-depth interviews to explore the impact of participation in AMP! on college student participants (N=8) from all 3 sites (Los Angeles, North Carolina, Georgia). The interview guides were designed to explore individual’s personal experiences and data were analyzed using the behavioral framework of social cognitive theory (SCT). This study was conducted as part of a Master’s thesis in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. Read the full thesis here.
A mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) evaluation approach that included pre/post surveys, in depth interviews and focus groups was conducted during Spring 2014 by undergraduate students enrolled in an evaluation course at Emory University. The evaluation specifically aimed to assess sexual health knowledge and attitudes among college student AMP! participants and audience members (N=36). The findings suggest that the Emory Sex-Ed Troupe performers do create positive change in the attitudes and knowledge of their peers and are therefore effective sexual health peer educators. The full report can be found here.
A qualitative study with UCLA college participants (N=6) to 1) determine the processes by which student members of the Sex Squad learn about and disseminate sexual health information through their social networks; and 2) document the degree to which Sex Squad members’ participation in AMP! changes their own behaviors (e.g., sexual risk behavior, STI/HIV testing) and the sexual behaviors of their network members. This study is funded by a OVCR-COR Transdisciplinary Seed Grant Supplement. All data collection has finished; analysis to be completed.
A mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) evaluation approach that included surveys, focus groups, in depth interviews, and observation was conducted during Spring 2013, with data collected from high school students (N=317), college participants (N=10), and school stakeholders (N=6) between January and June 2013. The evaluation explored issues of efficacy, process, and feasibility for scale up of this pilot version of AMP! Results indicated statistically significant changes in knowledge and attitudes for high school students, multiple transformations for the college student near-peer educations, and uncovered significant barriers and facilitators to implementation. The full report can be seen here.
The following manuscripts are also associated with this study:
Lightfoot A, Taboada A, Taggart T, Tran T & Burtaine A. (2015) 'I learned to be okay with talking about sex and safety:' Assessing the efficacy of a theatre-based HIV prevention approach for adolescents in North Carolina. Sex Education DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2015.1025947
Grewe M, Taboada A, Dennis A, Chen E, Stein K, Watson S, Barrington C & Lightfoot A. (2015) “I learned to accept every part of myself”: the transformative impact of a theater-based sexual health and HIV prevention program. Sex Education DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2015.1022820
A mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) evaluation approach that included pre/post surveys and focus groups was conducted during Spring 2013. The evaluation specifically aimed to assess sexual health knowledge and advocacy skills among college student participants (N=8), as well as explore issues of feasibility. Results indicated that participation in AMP! not only positively impacting the sexual health knowledge and advocacy skills of college participants, but that the experience had profound personal meaning for them as well. The full report can be found here.
A mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) evaluation approach that included surveys and focus groups was conducted during Spring 2013, with data collected from high school students (N=280) between February and June 2013. The evaluation explored issues of efficacy, process, and feasibility for AMP! Results indicated statistically significant changes in knowledge and attitudes, and the qualitative data provided additional insight into the intervention’s components and what content most resonated with participants. The qualitative report can be seen here, and the quantitative report here.
RTC pre/post test study with participants (N=570) randomly assigned to one of three conditions, allowing for comparison between live AMP!, virtual AMP! and the comparison group. Quantitative and qualitative data collected between February and June 2012. Investigators and research staff from the UCLA Art & Global Health Center, UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center, Los Angeles Unified School District, and the UCLA School of Public Health formed an interdisciplinary team to conduct this study. Results indicated statistically significant changes in HIV-related knowledge and attitudes, and furthermore showed comparable changes in both the live and virtual conditions. Findings were presented at the 141st Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association in November 2013.
A qualitative (open-ended surveys and focus group) study was conducted during the 2012-13 academic school year, with data collected between October 2012 and May 2013. The study took an exploratory approach to understanding the experience of college student participants (i.e. the UCLA Sex Squad N=11) including changes in knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about HIV and sexual health, as well as the desire to learn more and further develop their skills as peer educators. Findings were presented at 141st Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association in November 2013.
A qualitative process evaluation of AMP! implementation in LAUSD was conducted February-April 2011 by a graduate student from the UCLA School of Public Health. In depth interviews and focus groups were conducted with key informants (N=5) and study participants (N=21) to provide a snapshot of the successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Recommendations included: 1) broadening program goals to include sexual health as well as HIV; 2) Developing training modules for near-peer educators (college students); 3) enhancing information on topics related to STIs, teen pregnancy, reproductive choices, human sexuality, homophobia, bullying and suicide prevention; 4) conducting large scale program evaluation; and 5) disseminating program at public health conferences. The full report can be found here.
A non-experimental mixed methods evaluation study of AMP! in LAUSD was conducted January-June 2010 by two graduate students from the UCLA School of Education. Evaluation design was pre/post test of 110 program participants with no comparison group, as well as focus groups with a select group of participants. Survey results revealed significant improvements in information retention related to HIV transmission and prevention methods, increased HIV testing behavior, and increased positive attitudes towards people living with HIV. During focus group interviews, high school students specifically emphasized the impact of youth educators. The full report can be found here.
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