Understanding African American adolescent males’ perceived responsibility for pregnancy prevention: A mixed methods study
Awarded 2012
Complex Family Planning Fellowship Research
Elisabeth Woodhams, MD
The University of Chicago

Background: Unintended pregnancy among teenagers remains a significant problem. It is particularly important to consider unintended pregnancy in African American communities as African American teenagers are at increased risk of unplanned pregnancy and are more likely to seek abortion when pregnancy occurs. Women’s decision making about pregnancy and contraception is often influenced by their male partners; however, research traditionally focuses on the female partner and little is known about adolescent male attitudes regarding pregnancy prevention within sexual relationships. Specifically, prior research has not explored whether adolescent males perceive a personal responsibility for pregnancy prevention and contraceptive use. The proposed study focuses on the adolescent male sense of responsibility towards pregnancy prevention in adolescent sexual relationships.
Objective: To examine perceived responsibility for pregnancy prevention among African American urban male high school students on Chicago’s South Side.
Methods: This study is a mixed methods examination of African American adolescent males living on the South Side of Chicago. In phase 1, we conducted focus groups with 32 participants exploring relationships, communication, and responsibility within sexual relationships. Results were used to develop a quantitative survey for phase 2, evaluating how youth prioritize pregnancy prevention. Eligible participants were African American males (n=383) in grades 9–12 attending charter schools on Chicago’s South Side. All participants were reimbursed for their study participation. Data are stratified by sexual experience, and multivariable logistic regression used to analyze our outcome variables: belief that pregnancy prevention is a joint responsibility, and high perception of responsibility in pregnancy prevention.
Results: Focus group results found varying types of casual and monogamous sexual relationships. Young men were very concerned with preventing STIs within all their relationships. Priorities in STI versus pregnancy prevention, value of communication, and responsibility for condom and contraception use varied within these relationship types.
Conclusions: We anticipate that by better understanding adolescent males’ perceived responsibility in pregnancy prevention, as well as the factors informing these perceptions, we might discover new directions for interventions aimed at increasing contraception uptake among adolescents.