Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Carol (Ketl) Freedman-Doan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Byrd, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Susan McCarthy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Karen Saules, Ph.D.


This study sought to evaluate the effects of faith-based sexual education programs. Participants (ages 13-18, N = 128) were surveyed regarding their religious and sexual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors prior to completing a sexual education program at their church, synagogue, or religious institution and again after completing the program. The sexual education programs were divided into three groups based on program content and duration: abstinence-only-short, comprehensive-short, and comprehensive-long. The first goal was to assess the within-group effects of attending an abstinence-only or comprehensive sexual education program. Participants from all three groups showed an increase in the degree to which they believed that sex is special. The second goal was to compare the postprogram outcomes of each of the three groups. Interestingly, the groups varied little with regard to attitudes. Among sexually inactive youth, participants who attended an abstinenceonly program were more likely to cite religious reasons for abstinence. Additionally, participants from the comprehensive-long program engaged in more sexual activity than participants from the other groups, which was likely due to their older age. The promise of faith-based initiatives is discussed, as well as the existing research challenges and possible solutions. Future research directions are considered.