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“Going Beyond the Call of Doula”: A Grounded Theory Analysis of the Diverse Roles Community-Based Doulas Play in the Lives of Pregnant and Parenting Adolescent Mothers

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This article presents some of the most salient qualitative results from a larger program evaluation of pregnant and parenting adolescents who participated in a community-based doula program. Using grounded theory analysis, seven problem-solving strategies emerged that doulas apply in helping pregnant and parenting adolescents navigate multiple social and health settings that often serve as barriers to positive maternal- and child-health outcomes. The ethnographic findings of this study suggest that the doulas provide valuable assistance to pregnant and parenting adolescents by addressing social-psychological issues and socio-economic disparities. “Diverse role-taking” results in doulas helping pregnant adolescents navigate more successfully through fragmented social and health service systems that are less supportive of low-income adolescents, who are often perceived to be draining scarce resources. The findings have implications for the roles of community-based doulas assigned to low-income adolescents of color seeking to overcome obstacles and attain better educational and economic opportunities.

Keywords: African American; Latina; adolescent parenting; adolescent pregnancy; cultural competency; doula; early intervention; social support

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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