Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Dr Rachel Skinner (Principal investigator)

Brief description Teenage pregnancy is a major health, social and economic issue for Australia. The teenage birth rate in Australia is higher than many other developed countries and of additional concern is the very high pregnancy and termination rate. Teenage pregnancy places the mother and child at greater risk of lifelong adverse outcomes. Despite research over more than 3 decades, we have only a simplistic understanding of what are likely complex mechanisms leading to early pregnancy. This is thought to be the reason for the failure of nearly all teenage pregnancy prevention efforts worldwide. In addition, there has been little study of this issue in Australian teenagers, and none in Aboriginal teenagers for whom pregnancy is more common and carries worse outcomes. This 2-stage project seeks to elucidate complex biological, psychological, and social pathways to unplanned pregnancy in the teenage years. In Phase 1, perceptions, values and beliefs will be explored in a qualitative study. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal teenagers attending antenatal, termination and family planning clinics will be interviewed. Data from these interviews will generate new hypotheses regarding pregnancy risk in this age group. In Phase 2, 600 teenagers from schools, antenatal and termination clinics will be surveyed using computerised questionnaires. They will be asked about beliefs (identified in phase 1) and a range of other individual, family, and environmental factors identified in other studies to be risk factors for early pregnancy. Statistical analysis will be used to determine how multiple risk factors interact or combine to shape sexual and childbearing behaviour. This study will lead to new understandings of teenage pregnancy in Australia, and more effective teenage pregnancy intervention programs. Because few researchers in Australia, or elsewhere, have taken such a comprehensive approach to data collection and analysis, the results will be of international significance.

Funding Amount $AUD 542,100.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes New Investigator Grant

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