Using Media Literacy Education for Adolescent Sexual Health Promotion in Middle School: Randomized Control Trial of Media Aware

Scull, T. M., Kupersmidt, J. B., Malik, C. V., & Morgan-Lopez, A. A. (2018). Using media literacy education for adolescent sexual health promotion in middle school: Randomized control trial of Media Aware. Journal of Health Communication23(12), 1051-1063.


This study examined the short-term efficacy of Media Aware, a classroom-based media literacy education (MLE) program for improving adolescents’ sexual health outcomes. In a randomized control trial, schools were randomly assigned to the intervention (= 5 schools) or health promotion control (= 4 schools) group. Students completed questionnaires at pretest (= 880 students) and immediate posttest (= 926 students). The Media Aware program had a significant favorable impact on adolescent outcomes related to sexual health, including increased self-efficacy and intentions to use contraception, if they were to engage in sexual activity; enhanced positive attitudes, self-efficacy, and intentions to communicate about sexual health; decreased acceptance of dating violence and strict gender roles; and increased sexual health knowledge. Program effects were also found for media-related outcomes, including enhanced media deconstruction skills and increased media skepticism. Media deconstruction skills mediated the program’s impact on students’ intentions to communicate with a medical professional about sexual health issues. This study provides support for the use of MLE with adolescents to promote sexual health.