Do adolescents want babies? The relationship between attitudes and behavior.

L. S. Zabin, N. M. Astone, Mark Ross Emerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A prospective study of 313 Black adolescents who were followed for 2 years after presenting for a pregnancy test at an inner-city clinic in Baltimore suggested the need for greater attention to the concept of ambivalence in analyses of adolescent pregnancy. 80% of respondents were 15-17 years of age, 62% were public assistance recipients, and 76% were from female-headed households. Outcome variables, measured at 6-month intervals during the 2-year study period, included contraceptive use, subsequent pregnancy, and childbearing. At baseline, only 8.5% of respondents indicated a desire to become pregnant, 3.3% stated they did not know, and the remainder expressed a desire not to become pregnant. Thus, when a single question was used to assess attitudes toward childbearing, a negligible percentage was unsure. When a multi-item construct was created and inconsistent responses to questions about the outcome variables were treated as ambivalence, the percentage of teenagers falling into that category rose to 47.3%. Added to the construct were perceptions of sexual partner's wishes, perceptions of contraceptive efficacy, and attitudes toward contraception and abortion. In bivariate analysis, a consistent desire to avoid pregnancy had a significant effect on contraceptive usage and avoidance of pregnancy. Adolescents whose responses to the attitudinal measures were coded as ambivalent/inconsistent were at high risk of non-effective use of contraception, pregnancy, and childbearing. For example, among adolescents who delivered a baby, 63% expressed negative attitudes about contraceptive effectiveness, 58% were ambivalent, and 42% expressed positive attitudes. Similarly, of those who carried a pregnancy to term, 54% were opposed to abortion, 57% were ambivalent, and 40% were pro-choice. Based on these findings, it is recommended that pregnancy counselors go beyond a single direct question regarding pregnancy desire, used several probing questions to assess the strength of the commitment to avoid pregnancy, and seek to strengthen that commitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-86
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Volume3
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

baby
pregnancy
adolescent
Pregnancy
contraceptive
Contraceptive Agents
Contraception
contraception
ambivalence
abortion
Public Assistance
Contraception Behavior
Pregnancy Tests
Pregnancy in Adolescence
Baltimore
Sexual Partners
commitment
counselor
Prospective Studies
assistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Do adolescents want babies? The relationship between attitudes and behavior. / Zabin, L. S.; Astone, N. M.; Emerson, Mark Ross.

In: Journal of Research on Adolescence, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1993, p. 67-86.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{57029e98594a4301a563cedf6247fabe,
title = "Do adolescents want babies? The relationship between attitudes and behavior.",
abstract = "A prospective study of 313 Black adolescents who were followed for 2 years after presenting for a pregnancy test at an inner-city clinic in Baltimore suggested the need for greater attention to the concept of ambivalence in analyses of adolescent pregnancy. 80{\%} of respondents were 15-17 years of age, 62{\%} were public assistance recipients, and 76{\%} were from female-headed households. Outcome variables, measured at 6-month intervals during the 2-year study period, included contraceptive use, subsequent pregnancy, and childbearing. At baseline, only 8.5{\%} of respondents indicated a desire to become pregnant, 3.3{\%} stated they did not know, and the remainder expressed a desire not to become pregnant. Thus, when a single question was used to assess attitudes toward childbearing, a negligible percentage was unsure. When a multi-item construct was created and inconsistent responses to questions about the outcome variables were treated as ambivalence, the percentage of teenagers falling into that category rose to 47.3{\%}. Added to the construct were perceptions of sexual partner's wishes, perceptions of contraceptive efficacy, and attitudes toward contraception and abortion. In bivariate analysis, a consistent desire to avoid pregnancy had a significant effect on contraceptive usage and avoidance of pregnancy. Adolescents whose responses to the attitudinal measures were coded as ambivalent/inconsistent were at high risk of non-effective use of contraception, pregnancy, and childbearing. For example, among adolescents who delivered a baby, 63{\%} expressed negative attitudes about contraceptive effectiveness, 58{\%} were ambivalent, and 42{\%} expressed positive attitudes. Similarly, of those who carried a pregnancy to term, 54{\%} were opposed to abortion, 57{\%} were ambivalent, and 40{\%} were pro-choice. Based on these findings, it is recommended that pregnancy counselors go beyond a single direct question regarding pregnancy desire, used several probing questions to assess the strength of the commitment to avoid pregnancy, and seek to strengthen that commitment.",
author = "Zabin, {L. S.} and Astone, {N. M.} and Emerson, {Mark Ross}",
year = "1993",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "3",
pages = "67--86",
journal = "Journal of Research on Adolescence",
issn = "1050-8392",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do adolescents want babies? The relationship between attitudes and behavior.

AU - Zabin, L. S.

AU - Astone, N. M.

AU - Emerson, Mark Ross

PY - 1993

Y1 - 1993

N2 - A prospective study of 313 Black adolescents who were followed for 2 years after presenting for a pregnancy test at an inner-city clinic in Baltimore suggested the need for greater attention to the concept of ambivalence in analyses of adolescent pregnancy. 80% of respondents were 15-17 years of age, 62% were public assistance recipients, and 76% were from female-headed households. Outcome variables, measured at 6-month intervals during the 2-year study period, included contraceptive use, subsequent pregnancy, and childbearing. At baseline, only 8.5% of respondents indicated a desire to become pregnant, 3.3% stated they did not know, and the remainder expressed a desire not to become pregnant. Thus, when a single question was used to assess attitudes toward childbearing, a negligible percentage was unsure. When a multi-item construct was created and inconsistent responses to questions about the outcome variables were treated as ambivalence, the percentage of teenagers falling into that category rose to 47.3%. Added to the construct were perceptions of sexual partner's wishes, perceptions of contraceptive efficacy, and attitudes toward contraception and abortion. In bivariate analysis, a consistent desire to avoid pregnancy had a significant effect on contraceptive usage and avoidance of pregnancy. Adolescents whose responses to the attitudinal measures were coded as ambivalent/inconsistent were at high risk of non-effective use of contraception, pregnancy, and childbearing. For example, among adolescents who delivered a baby, 63% expressed negative attitudes about contraceptive effectiveness, 58% were ambivalent, and 42% expressed positive attitudes. Similarly, of those who carried a pregnancy to term, 54% were opposed to abortion, 57% were ambivalent, and 40% were pro-choice. Based on these findings, it is recommended that pregnancy counselors go beyond a single direct question regarding pregnancy desire, used several probing questions to assess the strength of the commitment to avoid pregnancy, and seek to strengthen that commitment.

AB - A prospective study of 313 Black adolescents who were followed for 2 years after presenting for a pregnancy test at an inner-city clinic in Baltimore suggested the need for greater attention to the concept of ambivalence in analyses of adolescent pregnancy. 80% of respondents were 15-17 years of age, 62% were public assistance recipients, and 76% were from female-headed households. Outcome variables, measured at 6-month intervals during the 2-year study period, included contraceptive use, subsequent pregnancy, and childbearing. At baseline, only 8.5% of respondents indicated a desire to become pregnant, 3.3% stated they did not know, and the remainder expressed a desire not to become pregnant. Thus, when a single question was used to assess attitudes toward childbearing, a negligible percentage was unsure. When a multi-item construct was created and inconsistent responses to questions about the outcome variables were treated as ambivalence, the percentage of teenagers falling into that category rose to 47.3%. Added to the construct were perceptions of sexual partner's wishes, perceptions of contraceptive efficacy, and attitudes toward contraception and abortion. In bivariate analysis, a consistent desire to avoid pregnancy had a significant effect on contraceptive usage and avoidance of pregnancy. Adolescents whose responses to the attitudinal measures were coded as ambivalent/inconsistent were at high risk of non-effective use of contraception, pregnancy, and childbearing. For example, among adolescents who delivered a baby, 63% expressed negative attitudes about contraceptive effectiveness, 58% were ambivalent, and 42% expressed positive attitudes. Similarly, of those who carried a pregnancy to term, 54% were opposed to abortion, 57% were ambivalent, and 40% were pro-choice. Based on these findings, it is recommended that pregnancy counselors go beyond a single direct question regarding pregnancy desire, used several probing questions to assess the strength of the commitment to avoid pregnancy, and seek to strengthen that commitment.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0027832476&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0027832476&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

C2 - 12318551

AN - SCOPUS:0027832476

VL - 3

SP - 67

EP - 86

JO - Journal of Research on Adolescence

JF - Journal of Research on Adolescence

SN - 1050-8392

IS - 1

ER -