Ambivalence and Pregnancy: The Effect of Adolescents' Attitudes on Contraception and Pregnancy

Martin, Anne R.; Brückner, Hannah; Bearman, Peter Shawn

It has been argued that adolescents who get pregnant often do not sufficiently appreciate its unfavorable consequences, and that prevention programs should target participants' attitudes towards pregnancy. This study tests whether the nature and certainty of sexually active adolescent girls' attitudes towards pregnancy influence their contraceptive consistency and risk of pregnancy. It also tests whether attitudes towards contraception influence contraceptive consistency. Data are drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationwide prospective study of adolescents in grades 7-12. Attitudes towards pregnancy, attitudes towards contraception, knowledge about fertility and other individual characteristics are included in a multivariate model of contraceptive consistency. Those variables, as well as contraceptive consistency itself, are then included in a multivariate model of pregnancy. Net of other factors, girls' attitudes towards getting pregnant did not affect whether they actually became pregnant. However, ambivalence about pregnancy made girls less likely to use contraception. Girls who were most opposed to pregnancy did not differ in contraceptive consistency from those least opposed. Implications for pregnancy prevention efforts are discussed.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University
ISERP Working Papers
Published Here
January 18, 2011