Researchers at the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR) at UTHealth School of Public Health have updated and enhanced their innovative theory- and Web-based decision support system, iCHAMPSS (Choosing and Maintaining Effective Programs for Sex Education in Schools).
iCHAMPSS is an online version of the CHAMPSS Model. Originally piloted in 2014, iCHAMPSS provides a systematic framework for Texas school districts to help them adopt, implement, and maintain sexual health-Evidence-Based Programs (EBPs).
“Sexual health EBPs are an important component of an overall prevention strategy to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, both of which are particularly high in the U.S. and Texas, specifically,” said Melissa Peskin, PhD, professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and iCHAMPSS principal investigator.
“These EBPs are widely available, yet school districts are slow to adopt and implement them due in part to the unique difficulties associated with teaching sexual health in schools. That’s why we developed iCHAMPSS.”
iCHAMPSS is designed to help school districts overcome the social, cultural, and logistical barriers to the implementation of EBPs in their schools. It was developed using intervention mapping, a systematic approach to developing health promotion programs using theoretical and empirical evidence. Similar web-based decision support systems are used effectively in a variety of settings, from healthcare to agriculture.
The system includes four decision-making facilitation features:
- An interactive model tutorial to familiarize users with the seven steps of the system.
- A staging tool to help users better understand their district’s level of readiness to adopt a sexual health EBP.
- A library of more than 60 decision-making tools designed to help users accomplish tasks at every step of the iCHAMPSS process.
- An online support linkage system that allows users to connect with each other and receive expert technical assistance.
In 2020, the State Board of Education adopted new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) which guides sex education in Texas, followed by major changes to the sex education laws within the Texas Education Code. Consequently, schools have had to rapidly make changes to how they adopt sex education curricula, with few tools available to help them navigate this process. iCHAMPSS seeks to fill that gap.
The iCHAMPSS team is collaborating with the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy to update the iCHAMPSS website to feature current Texas Education Code statutes, accurate teen pregnancy and STD data, and available online resources. These updates will be followed by usability and pilot testing of the iCHAMPSS website, the results of which will be used to continue to improve the iCHAMPSS tools and user interface.
“We have always believed iCHAMPSS was an important resource for schools, but it has become an even more important resource given the recent changes to our state laws,” said Belinda Hernandez, PhD, assistant professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and the iCHAMPSS co-investigator. “We are glad that we can provide this kind of support to schools so that they can make informed decisions and select the best sexual health programs for their district”.
iCHAMPSS is available at https://sph.uth.edu/research/centers/chppr/ichampss/