Contraception 2019 03 22;99(3):179-183. Epub 2018 Nov 22.
Women's and Gender Studies, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA.
Objective: The study describes maternal and adolescent perspectives on sexual decision making and the role of mothers in shaping use of contraception for the prevention of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among older Latino adolescents.
Study Design: Researchers used a semistructured interview guide to conduct focus group discussions with 21 mother-adolescent Latino dyads (n=42). Latino adolescents ages 17-19 were eligible for the study. We recruited families from the South Bronx, New York City, using area sampling methodology. For analysis of qualitative data, we used the framework method involving open coding, identification of dominant themes, refining of codebooks and indexing.
Results: Overwhelmingly, results suggest asymmetric priorities and preferences regarding maternal involvement in older adolescent sexual and contraceptive decision making. Mothers primarily employed practices designed to prevent adolescent sexual activity. Most teens reported already having experienced sexual debut and were currently sexually active. Adolescents expressed a strong interest in practical support for sexual decision making, including maternal guidance regarding effective access to and use of contraception. Mothers offered limited guidance or support with such matters. Maternal views focused entirely on the health and social consequences of sex in lieu of specific guidance on contraception for older sexually active adolescents. The findings highlight a missed opportunity for Latino mothers to support their older adolescent children to prevent unplanned pregnancies, STIs and HIV.
Conclusion: Mothers have the potential to positively shape adolescent contraceptive decision making and behavior. Misalignment of priorities between mothers and adolescents diminishes the potential of reducing adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) disparities.
Implications: Mothers are influential in reducing adolescent SRH risk. However, asymmetric priorities among Latino adolescents and their mothers regarding support for SRH reduce likelihood of reducing adolescent negative SRH outcomes and supporting adolescent health. Programs supporting better alignment of maternal guidance and adolescent SRH needs are warranted.