235097 Moving from stigma to strength: Experiences of pregnancy among adolescents in Nassau, The Bahamas inform healthy development of self, family, and the larger community

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tamarah Moss-Knight, PhD, MPH, MSW , School of Social Work, Howard University, Miami, FL
Ruby Gourdine, DSW, MSW, LICSW , School of Social Work, Howard University, Washington, DC
This qualitative study employed the six dimensions of stigma as part of the discourse in the experiences of pregnant adolescents in Nassau, The Bahamas. Building from Goffman (1963) work, Jones and colleagues (1983) identified six dimensions for understanding the personal experiences of marginalized populations. For this study, these dimensions related to the attribute of pregnancy and included: 1) the ability to conceal the attribute 2) the course of social expectations and anticipated social consequences; 3) the disruptiveness of the attribute; 4) the aesthetic qualities; 5) the origin of the attribute; and 6) peril. Focus group discussions and brief personal characteristic forms were utilized to explore, ‘What are the experiences of unmarried, first-time pregnant adolescents attending an alternative school in Nassau, The Bahamas?” The NVivo 8 qualitative software was used as an instrument for meaning making through the interpretive process of the participants' stories. The strengths of the study participants are revealed as they transcend their stigmatizing environments and help public health social workers and others understand how their experiences during pregnancy inform healthy development of self, family, and the larger community. While the anticipated themes of stigma and social support are shared, the study participants also raise themes related to advice to peers, HIV/AIDS prevention awareness, access to contraceptives, the importance of self reliance, future planning, as well as thoughts about abstinence and fertility. Essentially the study participants express how experiences during pregnancy inform healthy development of self, family and the larger community.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Describe at least three of the six dimensions of stigma that pregnant adolescents in The Bahamas experience 2) Identify and list two implications for public health social workers and other health professionals, based on study participants’ experiences of pregnancy related to perceived familial and community responses. 3) Describe how this study illustrated pregnant adolescents’ transcending perceived stigma, towards the development of healthy self, family and the larger community. 4) Describe the implications for social work practice, policy, and research based on the insight of study participants.

Keywords: Adolescents, International, Pregnancy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This presentation is based on my recent dissertation Howard University's School of Social Work under the guidance of dissertation advisor, Ruby M. Gourdine, DSW, MSW
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.