Reprod Health. 2016 Apr 14;13:39.

Who's that girl? A qualitative analysis of adolescent girls' views on factors associated with teenage pregnancies in Bolgatanga, Ghana

Krugu JK, Mevissen FE, Prinsen A and Ruiter RA

Abstract

Background: Adolescent pregnancy remains a public health concern, with diverse serious consequences, including increased health risk for mother and child, lost opportunities for personal development, social exclusion, and low socioeconomic attainments. Especially in Africa, teenage pregnancy rates are high. It is important to find out how girls without pregnancy experience differ in their contraceptive decision-making processes as compared with their previously studied peers with pregnancy experience to address the high rate of teenage pregnancies.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with never been pregnant girls (N = 20) in Bolgatanga, Ghana, to explore the psychosocial and environmental factors influencing the sexual decision making of adolescents. Themes such as relationships, sex, pregnancy, family planning and psychosocial determinants (knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, norms, risk perceptions) derived from empirical studies and theories related to sexuality behavior guided the development of the interview protocol.

Results: Results showed that the girls did talk about sexuality with their mothers at home and did receive some form of sexual and reproductive health education, including the use of condoms discussions in school. Participants reported high awareness of pregnancy risk related to unprotected sex, were positive about using condoms and indicated strong self-efficacy beliefs towards negotiating condom use. The girls also formulated clear future goals, including coping plans such as ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies to reach these targets. On the other hand, their attitudes towards family planning (i.e., contraceptives other than condoms) were negative, and they hold boys responsible for buying condoms.

Conclusion: An open parental communication on sexuality issues at home, comprehensive sex education in school and attitude, self-efficacy, risk perception towards contraception, alongside with goal-setting, seem to be protective factors in adolescent girls' pregnancy prevention efforts. These factors should be targets in future intervention programs at the individual, interpersonal, and school and community levels.

Comment: Adolescent pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned, remains a big challenge, for the health of the mother and the baby. As well as reliable contraception, good information is key. This article nicely describes ways to improve that. (HMV)