235022 Nothing to do or be: Adolescent mothers on social justice and unintended pregnancy

Monday, October 31, 2011

Aline C. Gubrium, PhD , School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
Christie Barcelos, MPPA , School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Division of Community Health Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
Pregnant and parenting teens are the targets of numerous health education programs, but are rarely asked to offer their thoughts on issues such as the social determinants of health or the possibilities for social justice. Public health research and interventions aimed at this population are often focused narrowly on the prevention of future pregnancies. The purpose of our project was to broaden the discourse surrounding pregnant and parenting young women by incorporating their views on important issues of justice and health. These are issues that have considerable power to move the field of health education forward and achieve its stated goals of reducing health disparities. We conducted 20 individual in-depth semi-structured interviews with young mothers ages 16-20 who attend a community-based alternative education program in western Massachusetts. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded inductively. Through a constant comparison method, we identified a number of constructs that challenge common understandings of adolescent pregnancy and highlight structural determinants of health. Participants identified that a lack recreational, social, and educational opportunities resulted in “[nothing] that we can be in, instead of being in a man's house.” This perspective is consistent with a capabilities approach to justice. In the case of adolescent pregnancy, the lack of opportunity to “do and be” in low-income, resource-poor neighborhoods results in a literally fertile environment for unintended pregnancy. Our results provide evidence for expanded understandings of the antecedents to adolescent pregnancy and a shift in focus to structural determinants of health.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe social justice aspects germane to research on adolescent pregnancy and mothering. Identify five constructs that adolescent mothers used to explain the causes of unintended pregnancy. Analyze the relationship between structural determinants of health and adolescent pregnancy.

Keywords: Adolescents, Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Conducted the interviews and analyzed the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.