Evaluation of Momentary Affect Regulation - Safer Sex Intervention (MARSSI)

  • End date
    Jun 30, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    The Policy & Research Group
Updated on 15 October 2022


The purpose of the study is to determine the impact of the offer to participate in the Momentary Affect Regulation - Safer Sex Intervention (treatment) relative to the offer to participate in the control condition on participants' reported condom use, use of effective contraception, and number of sexual partners three months after the end of the treatment intervention.


The Policy & Research Group (PRG) will be conducting a rigorous evaluation of an innovative intervention designed to reduce unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in young women with depression, entitled Momentary Affect Regulation - Safer Sex Intervention (MARSSI). MARSSI was developed by Dr. Lydia Shrier of Boston Children's Hospital. MARSSI has three components. The first is a manualized session with a sexual and reproductive health counselor, who uses motivational interviewing (MI) techniques to help the young woman identify a risk-reducing goal for her sexual behavior, develop a change plan, and provide depression education and skills, based on cognitive behavioral therapy. The second component is a mobile health (mhealth) application that the young woman loads on her smartphone and, for four weeks, uses to complete app-prompted reports 3 times a day and a scheduled report once a day. When she reports poor affect, low contraceptive or condom self-efficacy, pregnancy desire, or desire for sex to regulate affect, she receives personalized messages prompting healthy behaviors and cognitive behavioral skill use. The third component is a booster session that occurs after 4 weeks of app use. The young woman meets with the counselor again to review her behavior and relationships, discuss progress toward her goal, and learn a new skill. Through these components, MARSSI aims to enhance motivation to change risk behaviors, provides skills to address depression's effects on behavior, and prompts and reinforces healthy affect regulation, cognitive behavioral skill use, and behavior change in daily life.

The Policy & Research Group (PRG) will conduct an implementation evaluation and an impact evaluation, using an individual randomized controlled trial, to test the efficacy of this new intervention. The study will target young women ages 17-20 who have depressive symptoms and are recent clients of sexual and reproductive health clinics. The primary focus of the study will be to investigate the impact of the intervention on three self-reported sexual behaviors: 1) condom use; 2) use of effective contraception; and 3) number of sexual partners. The study will also include exploratory investigations of a number of other sexual behaviors and theoretically relevant antecedents to change in behavior and sexual health, including but not limited to: 1) engagement in protective sexual behavior; 2) condom use at last vaginal sex; 3) effective contraceptive use at last vaginal sex; 4) dual methods of protection; 5) frequency of vaginal, anal, and oral sex; 6) substance use before any type of sex; 7) types of sexual partners/relationships; 8) depressive symptoms; 9) sexual communication self-efficacy; 10) motivation to change risky sexual behaviors; 11) contraceptive and condom knowledge; 12) contraceptive and condom planning self-efficacy; and 13) use of cognitive restructuring.

Outcomes will be assessed using self-reported, participant-level data gathered (by way of a questionnaire) at four time points: baseline (enrollment); post-program (immediately after the end of the intervention period; 1 month post baseline); short-term (4 months post-baseline) follow-up; and long-term (7 months post baseline) follow-up.

Starting in May 2021 and continuing for 17 months, 600 participants who have received recent sexual or reproductive health care from any Planned Parenthood health center (nationally) will be recruited and enrolled into the study by trained Planned Parenthood research coordinators. The final year of the grant will be used to complete the following tasks: collect follow-up data from study participants; conduct implementation and impact evaluation analysis, reporting, and dissemination efforts; and manualize and package the curriculum and training materials.

Condition Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Treatment Momentary Affect Regulation - Safer Sex Intervention (MARSSI), Podcast Health Group
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04798248
SponsorThe Policy & Research Group
Last Modified on15 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Be an active patient of a Planned Parenthood health center
Own a smartphone
Be fluent in English
Have the technical capacity to participate
Be 17 to 20 years of age
Be biologically able to become pregnant (to the best of their knowledge)
Have had penile-vaginal sex in the past 3 months
Score at least 8 on the PHQ-8
Have had penile-vaginal sex at least once a week, on average
Report having done at least one of the following during the 3 months preceding eligibility screening: 1) Not using a condom every time they have sexual intercourse; 2) Used condoms, a diaphragm, cervical cap, spermicide, sponge, fertility awareness, or withdrawal as a primary form of birth control; 3) Had sexual intercourse with more than one person; 4) Had sexual intercourse within 2 hours after using drugs and alcohol; and/or 5) Been treated for an STI/STD

Exclusion Criteria

Trying to get pregnant or currently pregnant at the time of eligibility screening
Have given birth during the 6 months preceding eligibility screening
Married or engaged to be married at the time of eligibility screening
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