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Review Process

The review is conducted for HHS by researchers from Mathematica Policy Research, an independent research organization. To date, the review team has identified and assessed relevant studies released from 1989 through August, 2015. Additional updates are planned for the future as new research emerges.

Overview of the Review Process

The review process involves four main steps:
  • Search for Studies

    Search for Studies

    We begin with a broad literature search that includes both published and unpublished work. We scan the reference lists of existing research syntheses; search the websites of relevant federal agencies and research and policy organizations; conduct keyword searches of electronic databases; hand search relevant journals and professional conference proceedings; and issue periodic public calls for studies.
  • Screen and Select Studies

    Screen and Select Studies

    We then screen studies against pre-specified eligibility criteria. For example, to be eligible for the review, studies must be conducted in the U.S., use a sample of youth age 19 or younger, and measure program impacts on pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, or associated sexual risk behaviors.
  • Assess Individual Studies

    Assess Individual Studies

    For studies that meet the eligibility criteria, trained reviewers assess each study for the quality and execution of its research design. As a part of this assessment, each study is assigned a quality rating of high, moderate, or low according to the risk of bias in the study's impact findings. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review does not examine curriculum content to make assessments about whether a program is medically or scientifically accurate, or inclusive of populations that are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. Meeting the Evidence Review criteria does not indicate HHS endorsement of a program model. See more here.
  • Analyze Evidence for Individual Programs

    Analyze Evidence for Individual Programs

    For studies that pass the review quality assessment with either a high or moderate rating, we extract and analyze program impact estimates to assess evidence of effectiveness for each individual program. Studies receiving a low quality rating are excluded from this assessment, because the risk of bias in these studies is considered too high to yield credible estimates of program effectiveness.

Review Protocol

A more detailed description of the review process and study ratings is provided in the review protocol. The protocol was initially written at the start of the review in fall 2009. The study team revises the protocol each time the review findings are updated to include more recent research.

Review Protocol, version 5.0 (613 KB)

This protocol was used to update the review findings to cover research released from July 2014 through August 2015. The protocol also introduced two new changes to the review criteria. First, to remain eligible for the review, programs must now have at least one study that was conducted within the last 20 years and that found positive, statistically significant program impacts. Second, the review team is now conducting outcome specific assessments of program effectiveness.

Review Protocol, version 4.0 (699 KB)

This protocol was used to update the review findings to cover research released from April 2013 through July 2014. The protocol also added a step for assessing the implementation readiness of programs that have met the review criteria for evidence of effectiveness.

Review Protocol, version 3.0 (709 KB)

This protocol was used to update the review findings to cover research released from January 2011 through April 2013. The protocol also clarified the review criteria related to cluster adjustments, attrition calculations, and effect size information.

Review Protocol, version 2.0 (1 MB)

This protocol was used to update the review findings to cover research released from January 2010 through January 2011. There were no changes to the review criteria.

Review Protocol, version 1.0 (772 KB)

This protocol was used to conduct the initial review of the evidence, which covered research released from 1989 through January 2010.