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Adolescent Motherhood: A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Studies

Clemmens, Donna PhD, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: March-April 2003 - Volume 28 - Issue 2 - p 93-99
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Purpose To synthesize qualitative studies on the phenomenon of adolescent motherhood.

Methods Databases were searched for qualitative studies regarding the experience of adolescent motherhood (years 1990–2001). Noblit and Hare’s (1988) meta-ethnographic comparative method was used for synthesizing the research. A total of 251 citations were found, with a subgroup of 50 studies on “adolescent motherhood” and “qualitative studies.” Twenty-five studies conducted in the United States, Canada, China, England, and Australia met the sample inclusion criteria. The combined sample of participants across studies was 257 adolescent mothers.

Results Certain characteristics are common to the studies of adolescent motherhood. Five overarching metaphors were found: (1) the reality of motherhood brings hardship; (2) living in the two worlds of adolescence and motherhood; (3) motherhood as positively transforming; (4) baby as stabilizing influence; and (5) supportive context as turning point for the future.

Clinical Implications Nurses working in hospital, home care, community, and school settings can use the results of this metasynthesis to obtain a clearer picture of how adolescents feel during pregnancy, and the types of nursing interventions that can be developed to help them.

Donna Clemmens is an Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut, School of Nursing. She can be reached at 13 Ridgecrest Road, Stamford, CT 06903 (e-mail:

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