Background: Infant simulator-based programmes seek to prevent teenage pregnancy. They are utilised in western and developing countries but, despite growing popularity, there is no published evidence of their long-term impact. The aim of this trial was to investigate the effect of such a programme, the Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) Programme, on the pregnancy outcomes of birth and induced abortion.

Methods: Fifty-seven of 66 eligible schools (86%) in Perth, Western Australia enrolled in the pragmatic clustered (by school) randomised trial (ISRCTN24952438) with even randomisation to the intervention and control groups. Between 2003 and 2006, the VIP programme was administered to 1,267 girls in the intervention schools, while 1,567 girls in the control schools received the standard health education curriculum. Participants were aged 13-15 years and were followed until age 20 via data linkage to hospital medical and abortion clinic records. Log binomial and Cox proportional hazards regression was used to test for differences in pregnancy rates between study groups. Findings: Compared to girls

Findings: Compared to girls in the control group, a higher proportion of girls in the intervention group recorded at least one birth (7.6%, n=97; 4·3%, n=67) or at least one abortion as the first pregnancy event (8.9%, n=113; 6.4%, n=101). After adjustment for potential confounding, the intervention group had a higher overall pregnancy risk (RR = 1·36, 95% CI 1.10–1·67, p=0.003) compared to the control group. Similar results were obtained using proportional hazard models (HR = 1.35, 95% CI 1.10–1·67, p=0·016).

Interpretation: The infant-simulator based VIP Programme did not achieve its aim of reducing teenage pregnancy. Girls in the intervention group were more likely to experience a birth or an induced abortion than those in the control group before turning 20 years of age.

Funding: The Health Promotion Research Foundation of Western Australia (Healthway), Lotteries WA, the Western Australian Department of Education and Training and the Western Australian Department of Health.


prevention, teenage pregnancy, simulator programme, Western Australia

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