Thursday, July 12, 2007
This presentation is part of : Child and Adolescent Healthcare Issues
Adolescent perceptions of teen births: A focus group study
Judith Herrman, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
Learning Objective #1: discuss selected adolescents' perceptions of sexual activity, teen births, and young parenting.
Learning Objective #2: describe the need to access adolescent perceptions in order to inform the development of programs and policies designed to prevent teen pregnancy.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine teens’ insights about the costs and rewards associated with adolescent childrearing.

Theoretical Framework: An adaptation of the theory of reasoned action and a cost-rewards framework provided the foundation for this study. This model explores individuals’ beliefs associated with consequences as the basis for attitudes toward and likelihood to engage in behaviors.

Population: The sample was made up of 120 youth, aged 12-19. The participants in the focus groups were solicited from schools, churches, teen advocacy groups, and support programs.

Methodology: Seventeen groups were conducted over a span of 6 weeks. The study design warranted the use of ethnographic focus groups to determine individual views, group interactions, and shared meanings concerning teen sexual activity and births. Each group had 3-15 participants and the interviews averaged 40 minutes in length. Consent was obtained from participants and parents/guardians.

Data analysis/results: The data were reviewed for themes in a recursive, iterative manner and were loaded into Ethnograph 5.08 to allow for coding, organization, and thematic analysis. Data were organized to reflect impacts on relationships, education, work, money, and self. Data demonstrated that while there are positives of teen births, the negative aspects carry far more weight.

Conclusions and Nursing Implications: Teens were open about sex and sexual behaviors. Teens asked that adults address responsible sexual behavior and healthy relationships on teens’ own terms and approach topics based on individual levels of knowledge, experience, and perspectives. Teens identified that adolescents may benefit from hearing the lived experience of teen births, in which young parents share their stories with other teens. Teens valued the presence of adult role models, institutions, and resources. Nurses have an integral role in determining teen perceptions to design interventions, messages, and policies based on these insights, increasing the potential effectiveness of initiatives.