Medical trial of soap opera videos streamed to smartphones

The first medical effects of a soap opera series that streams to smartphones show no significant advantage over phone-texting clear medical messages, but the soap opera is popular, says this study:

A randomized controlled trial of soap opera videos streamed to smartphones to reduce risk of sexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in young urban African American women,” Rachel Jones, Donald R. Hoover, Lorraine J. Lacroix, Nursing Outlook, vol. 61, no. 4, July–August 2013, pp. 205–215.e3. (Thanks to Adrian Levitsky for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Northeastern University and Rutgers University, report:

Love, Sex, and Choices (LSC) is a soap opera video series created to reduce HIV sex risk in women.

METHODS: LSC was compared to text messages in a randomized trial in 238 high-risk mostly Black young urban women. 117 received 12-weekly LSC videos, 121 received 12-weekly HIV prevention messages on smartphones. Changes in unprotected sex with high risk partners were compared by mixed models.

RESULTS: Unprotected sex with high risk men significantly declined over 6 months post-intervention for both arms, from 21-22 acts to 5-6 (p < 0.001). This reduction was 18% greater in the video over the text arm, though this difference was not statistically significant. However, the LSC was highly popular and viewers wanted the series to continue.

CONCLUSION: This is the first study to report streaming soap opera video episodes to reduce HIV risk on smartphones. LSC holds promise as an Internet intervention that could be scaled-up and combined with HIV testing.

Here’s the pilot episode of the soap opera series:


Here’s the clinical trials registration for part of the project — a part which (the registration says) has not yet begun: Identifier: NCT02493647

This study is not yet open for participant recruitment.
Verified July 2015 by Northeastern University.

Estimated Enrollment: 912
Study Start Date: July 2015
Estimated Study Completion Date: March 2019
Estimated Primary Completion Date: December 2017 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

PURPOSE: This study tests a 12-episode Internet-based, guide enhanced Love, Sex, & Choices (LSC) HIV prevention soap opera video series for smartphones or computers, in a randomized clinical trial among predominately at-risk African American urban women.

The following hypotheses are to be tested: 1) The LSC treatment arm will show lower unprotected sex risk, meaning lower frequency of unprotected sex (vaginal + anal) with high risk partners at 6 months post intervention compared to an attention control arm 2) The LSC treatment arm will show higher participation in HIV testing at 6 months post intervention compared to the control.