To elicit the views of teens concerning effective strategies to prevent pregnancy.
Qualitative methods and a focus group approach were used.
The sample consisted of male and female adolescents, 14 to 19 years of age, in grades 9 to 12, who volunteered to participate in the study. Seven groups of teens met with the investigator twice over 2 consecutive weeks. Instruments included a Screening Questionnaire and Focus Group Discussion Guidelines.
Teens were concerned about teen pregnancy, and supported a comprehensive approach to sex education beginning in the early elementary grades, with age and developmentally appropriate content and reinforcement from late grade school through high school. Generally, teens thought that teaching abstinence in grade school followed by contraception education in junior high and high school was a realistic strategy for pregnancy prevention. They wanted to discuss sexual feelings as well as the mechanical aspects of sex. Finally, they did not want to be told not to have sex, but rather wanted to be guided in their own decision making. Teens wanted parents and other adults to be involved in helping them understand sexuality and make decisions about sexual behavior.
Nurses who work with families need to understand why teens are becoming pregnant, provide opportunities for teens to discuss sexual behavior, and educate parents on sexual development and parent-child communication. Nurses also need to let parents and teens know that they are a resource for information, guidance, and health services related to sexual development and behavior.
Mary Lober Aquilino is an Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. She can be reached at College of Nursing, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Helga Bragadottir is a Doctoral Student, College of Nursing, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.