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Social network recruitment for Yo Puedo: an innovative sexual health intervention in an underserved urban neighborhood—sample and design implications.

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Most existing evidence-based sexual health interventions focus on individual-level behavior, even though there is substantial evidence that highlights the influential role of social environments in shaping adolescents' behaviors and reproductive health outcomes. We developed Yo Puedo, a combined conditional cash transfer and life skills intervention for youth to promote educational attainment, job training, and reproductive health wellness that we then evaluated for feasibility among 162 youth aged 16-21 years in a predominantly Latino community in San Francisco, CA. The intervention targeted youth's social networks and involved recruitment and randomization of small social network clusters. In this paper we describe the design of the feasibility study and report participants' baseline characteristics. Furthermore, we examined the sample and design implications of recruiting social network clusters as the unit of randomization. Baseline data provide evidence that we successfully enrolled high risk youth using a social network recruitment approach in community and school-based settings. Nearly all participants (95%) were high risk for adverse educational and reproductive health outcomes based on multiple measures of low socioeconomic status (81%) and/or reported high risk behaviors (e.g., gang affiliation, past pregnancy, recent unprotected sex, frequent substance use; 62%). We achieved variability in the study sample through heterogeneity in recruitment of the index participants, whereas the individuals within the small social networks of close friends demonstrated substantial homogeneity across sociodemographic and risk profile characteristics. Social networks recruitment was feasible and yielded a sample of high risk youth willing to enroll in a randomized study to evaluate a novel sexual health intervention.

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