In the new study conducted on England schools, the researchers sought to determine whether the teaching of sexual health information by people of a similar age was effective in terms of reducing teenage abortion, pregnancy, and improving sexual health amongst teenagers.
The initial results of the study published in The Lancet in 2004 showed that found that at age, girls aged 16 yrs who received the peer-led sessions reported fewer unintended pregnancies, although the results were only marginally significant in comparison to the teacher-led sessions.
However, the long-term study results showed that at the age 20 years, there was no difference between the peer-led and teacher-led groups in terms of the number of girls who had had abortions (one in twenty in both cases).
There were also no differences between the peer-led and teacher-led groups for male or female participants in other aspects of sexual health, including the numbers diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases.
However, the researchers do suggest that pupils prefer peer-led approach to sex education and it should still be considered as part of a broad strategy to reduce teenage pregnancy.
The study is published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.