257153 Under-examined importance of context in understanding teenage pregnancy

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Debra Kalmuss, PhD , Heilbrunn Dept. of Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Andrew Levack, MPH , Engender Health, Austin, TX
Maya Scherer, BA, MPH Candidate , Heilbrunn Dept. of Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Social context remains an under-examined factor in teenage pregnancy. Most studies operationalize context as socioeconomic status assessed at the individual and/or neighborhood level. This strategy provides little insight into how youth experience the environments in which they live and fails to look beyond socioeconomic context. We explored teenagers' personal and social narratives about teenage pregnancy; the latter rooted in the pervasive context of such pregnancies in their daily lives. This mixed method study consisted of in-depth interviews and short survey questionnaires with two samples (n==44 and 15 respectively) of 14-16 year old females in Austin Texas. Respondents were recruited from the 2011 Travis County Summer Youth Employment Program serving economically disadvantaged youth, the overwhelming majority of whom were Latino or African-American. Study findings detail the nature of a dual narrative surrounding teenage pregnancy. While their personal beliefs are negative and reinforce intentions to prevent pregnancy, the social narratives are more split; they both enable and undermine pregnancy prevention. In short, girls' personal beliefs about teenage pregnancy are challenged by much of what they see, hear and experience every day. We will discuss the implications of these findings for pregnancy prevention programs.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how a dual narrative about teenage pregnancy complicates efforts to avoid teenage pregnancy among Latino and African-American female adolescents in Texas. a. Describe adolescent girls’ personal beliefs about teenage pregnancy. b. Describe the context of teenage pregnancy in their everyday lives c. Describe how that context promotes competing social narratives that have contradictory influences on pregnancy outcomes for teens. 2. Identify ways to incorporate these significant contextual factors into pregnancy prevention interventions.

Keywords: Teen Pregnancy, Adolescent Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an MPH candidate (expected graduation 2013) at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. I am a graduate research assistant on this project and have contributed in equal part to the development of this study.
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.