Institutional factors affecting teenagers' choice and reasons for delay in attending a family planning clinic.

L. S. Zabin, S. D. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study explores the reasons why teenagers coming for professional birth control help for the 1st time choose the particular clinic in which they enrolled and the clinic characteristics which may encourage the young patients to come for contraceptive help early or contribute to a delay in seeking services. 1234 never pregnant teenagers in 31 family planning clinics of various types in 8 cities answered a questionnaire in the spring of 1980. About 44% of the respondents were white, 48% black and the rest from other racial groups. Just over 14% came to the clinic before 1st coitus, 36% came only because they suspected they were pregnant, and the rest enrolled after they began intercourse but did not suspect pregnancy. The interval between intercourse and enrollment ranged from a few weeks to 2 years with a median interval of 11.5 months. There were 15 possible responses to the question, "Why did you choose this clinic?" The 5 principal reasons given in order were: It doesn't tell their parents; the people there care about teens; it is the closest, their friends come to it; and it is the only 1 they know of. Also significant was, for blacks only, an adult, usually the mother, chose the clinic. Additional information on responses to this question and others is given in charts. The questionnaire also showed a consistent but weak association between the reasons for selecting a particular facility and the characteristics of the clinic such as cost of services, special teen hours, teen rap sessions, and outreach program. The responses indicated that many factors including age, race, and the time when the teenager 1st seeks clinic services affect her choice. The conclusion drawn is that a network of facilities with a variety of services is needed with the common characteristics of open caring atmosphere, women clinicians available and absolute confidentiality so that the proportion of young women who appear only after they are pregnant might be greatly reduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-29
Number of pages5
JournalFamily Planning Perspectives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1983
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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