Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Degree Level





Ballentine, Hope

Committee Member/Reader

Richardson, Emily


Background: Historically, sexual education in the United States has been abstinence-based (ABSE), meaning that sexual education is centered around encouraging adolescents to abstain from sexual activity outside of wedlock. On the other hand, evidence-based sexual education (EBSE) includes abstinence in its curriculum but does not emphasize it, instead highlighting contraception and prevention strategies. Additionally, EBSE teaches adolescents about healthy relationships, attitudes towards sexuality, gender roles, and provides resources for sexual and reproductive health services. Supplying adolescents in K-12 schools with access to evidence-based sexual education may not only decrease teen pregnancy rates and incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but instill confidence in the adolescent of their knowledge of sexual health and personal identity.

Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review is to synthesize the literature comparing the effects of abstinence-based sexual education versus evidence-based sexual education on sexual health in K-12 schools in the United States of America.

Results: 22 peer-reviewed articles were retrieved through a database search of CINAHL Complete and MEDLINE Complete.

Conclusions: The studies reviewed displayed compelling evidence for the implementation of comprehensive sexual education in the United States, and against abstinence-based sexual education. Abstinence-based sexual education does not decrease the risk for teenage pregnancy or delay age of sexual debut, as it intends to. In contrast, it was found that evidence-based sexual education increases the likelihood of contraception use at first sexual encounter and has shown reductions in risky sexual behavior.


sexual health education, abstinence, comprehensive