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Social Messages, Social Context, and Sexual Health: Voices of Urban African American Youth

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Objective : To describe aspects of the social context that low-income, urban African American young women articulate as having influenced social messages they received during adolescence about pregnancy timing and childbearing.

Methods : Individual interviews were conducted with 20 African American young women ages 18-22.

Results : Findings clustered into 5 themes: first sex; getting ready and getting it over with; the path for African American girls; gender expectations: insecurity and independence; living into a future; and living in a context of instability and uncertainty.

Conclusions : Findings portray a complex relationship between social context, social messages, and decisions about pregnancy timing and childbearing.

Keywords: African American; Pregnancy; adolescents; child-bearing; social context

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Molly Secor-Turner, Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND.

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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