Online Program

“If it happens, it happens” vs. “It was planned”: Conceptualizing the ways people approach the possibility of pregnancy

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Dana Watnick, MPH, MSSW, The Graduate Center; Doctoral Program in Public Health, The City University of New York, New York, NY
Meredith D'Amore, MPH, PhD, Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine & New York University, Boston, MA
Cathy Besthoff, RN, MHA, City University of New York, New York, NY
Nisha Beharie, DrPH, DPH Program, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, NY
Amy Kwan, MPH, Department of Community, Society and Health, The Graduate Center, CUNY School of Public Health, New York, NY
Diana Romero, PhD, MA, Community Health and Social Sciences, City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York, NY
Background: The concepts of pregnancy intention and decision-making are important in public health with regard to reducing unintended pregnancy. However, these concepts have proven difficult to validly measure, largely due to the inherent assumption in current measures that individuals approach pregnancy solely in rational or cognitive ways. Methods: The Social Position and Family Formation (SPAFF) study involved cross-sectional, qualitative interviews from a community–based sample of 200 men and women (ages 18-35). Individuals were recruited from public venues in New York City and northern New Jersey, and were sampled from select neighborhoods to reflect the racial/ethnic, educational, and income distribution of the larger city. A semi-structured interview guide was used to explore ‘decision-making' around childbearing. Interviews were coded, however, to identify all descriptions about the possibility of becoming pregnant. Results: Preliminary analysis indicates that many respondents refer to ”rational” approaches to pregnancy (“making a mindful choice”, “it was planned”, “a mutual decision”). However, many responses reflected two non-rational themes, which we refer to as Naturalistic (“just be natural”, “an organic thing”) and Chance (“God will give it to me, I just don't know when”, “there's only so much you can control”, “if it happens, it happens”). Conclusions: Assumptions that individuals' approaches to pregnancy are universally rational have impeded our understanding of the phenomenon of pregnancy and our ability to develop effective public health programs. The Naturalistic and Chance themes identified may tap into the emotional aspects of becoming pregnant and lead to improved measurement of this important construct in public health.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the different ways people talk about the possibility of pregnancy. Identify themes based on both rational and non-rational components of the possibility of pregnancy.

Keyword(s): Pregnancy, Reproductive Planning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a doctoral student in Public Health I’m currently part of a qualitative working group analyzing data from a study on social position and family formation, exploring how young adults of varying economic positions and race/ethnicity think about family formation. Furthermore, I have over 8 years of experience working in research and programs on sexual and reproductive health for young adults and adolescents, including both qualitative and quantitative methods.
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.