Turchi Presents Preliminary PREP Findings at EyesOpenIowa


Public Policy Center (PPC) research assistant Jennifer Turchi will present preliminary findings from the Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP) evaluation this week at EyesOpenIowa, a yearly conference in Des Moines that promotes positive adolescent sexual health behaviors and helps educate communities about ways to support teens in this aspect of their lives. 

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), Congress approved PREP to educate adolescents on abstinence and contraception in order to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. In addition to these areas, PREP provides information about a variety of topics such as healthy relationships, development, career/educational success, and financial literacy.  The PPC is performing a multi-year evaluation of the PREP program for the state of Iowa, assessing changes in adolescents’ communication, knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions.  The first year of the assessment (2012) focused on interviewing participants of two programs: Wise Guys, designed specifically for 11-17 year old males and TOP, intended for adolescent boys and girls.   

Turchi will present with Addie Rasmusson of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), liaison to IDPH for the PREP evaluation.  They will present data collected during the WiseGuys and TOP interviews.  The study used an innovative approach, by having participants from all over the state draw their social networks, and then indicate with color coded stickers who they have talked to, would talk to, and would not talk to about certain topics.  The presentation on Thursday and Friday will focus on the pre-test data  collected from September 2012 to January 2013.  

Preliminary findings of the study show that adolescents' networks play an integral role in the conversations they are having in regards to sexual health.  The researchers hope to highlight some of the ways in which these networks are important in those conversations, and provide grantees/program directions with additional information to help them better serve their program participants.  For example, if participants have strong networks already, then how might they go about encouraging students to use those networks more, or in the case of participants with very sparse networks, what resources can they draw on to help build those networks. Having adequate information about adolescent networks can help program leaders think about their approach in how they share their knowledge about safe sexual health.  

Turchi is a research assistant with the Health Policy Research Program at the PPC, working with Dr. Natoshia Askelson. She is a graduate student in the Sociology department, where her dissertation focuses on physical and mental health outcomes for children in single-father families compared to other family types.