iRT is pleased to announce that an evaluation of the Media Aware program has been published in the Journal of Health Communication.

Media Aware (Sexual Health for Middle School) is a teacher-led program that uses media literacy education to help adolescents learn about a wide range of sexual and relationship health topics. In the published research study, Media Aware was compared to traditional health education lessons across dozens of middle school health classes. In total, well over 800 students were included in the randomized controlled trial.

The study’s results were encouraging for both Media Aware and media literacy education in general. After being taught the Media Aware program, students held greater intentions to communicate about sexual health and to use contraception (if they were to engage in sexual activity) compared to students who did not receive the program. Moreover, the students were less likely to accept dating violence and strict gender roles, and they even demonstrated generally higher levels of media skepticism than their peers who didn’t take the program.

“Using media literacy education as a prevention strategy provides so much promise,” said Dr. Scull, first author on the paper and Senior Research Scientist at iRT. “Youth spend so much of their day interacting with media; helping them to critically examine the media messages they encounter may influence their thinking long after the school-based program is done.”

iRT has developed several evidence-based media literacy education programs for health promotion. Recently, an evaluation of an online sexual health promotion program for young adults (ages 18-24), Media Aware (Sexual Health for Young Adults), found that the program resulted in a reduction of risky sexual behaviors in a sample of community college students.  Findings on the efficacy of that program were published in the Journal of American College Health earlier this year.  More information about that program can be found at