STUDY OBJECTIVE: To understand attitudes and beliefs influencing use and nonuse of contraceptive methods pre- and postpartum among a group of adolescent mothers.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Qualitative descriptive study utilizing focus groups conducted between May, 2005 and January, 2006 in Central Massachusetts.
PARTICIPANTS: Adolescent mothers attending a federally funded multi-professional medical program. Inclusion criteria included being at least one year postpartum. Forty-six mothers were eligible; 34 were successfully contacted via telephone. Twenty-two agreed to attend; 15 adolescent mothers attended one of four groups.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Emergent themes were identified concerning adolescent mothers' attitudes and beliefs regarding contraception pre and postpartum.
RESULTS: Themes pertaining to nonuse of contraception prior to first pregnancy were: denial, not planning to have sex, not considering the consequences of unprotected sex, and wanting to become pregnant. Participants identified barriers to obtaining and utilizing contraception, including embarrassment discussing the topic, confidentiality, inability to obtain contraception without parental knowledge, and lack of knowledge regarding methods. Participants reported that convenience, perceived effectiveness, familiarity, and side effects were the primary reasons for selecting or changing a method of contraception postpartum and recommended several methods of promoting contraceptive use among adolescents. These included persuading health care providers to discuss the issue routinely with every adolescent patient, parental involvement, outreach by young mothers to at-risk teens, and media campaigns.
CONCLUSIONS: Given the adverse consequences of adolescent pregnancy, understanding the attitudes and beliefs of postpartum adolescents regarding contraceptives is important for developing effective interventions. Focus groups conducted with adolescent mothers, a difficult population to engage, provide a venue for exploring this complex issue.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/celeste_lemay/7/