Predicting Unprotected Sex and Unplanned Pregnancy among Urban African-American Adolescent Girls Using the Theory of Gender and Power

Janet E. Rosenbaum, Jonathan Zenilman, Eve Rose, Gina Wingood, Ralph DiClemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reproductive coercion has been hypothesized as a cause of unprotected sex and unplanned pregnancies, but research has focused on a narrow set of potential sources of reproductive coercion. We identified and evaluated eight potential sources of reproductive coercion from the Theory of Gender and Power including economic inequality between adolescent girls and their boyfriends, cohabitation, and age differences. The sample comprised sexually active African-American female adolescents, ages 15–21. At baseline (n = 715), 6 months (n = 607), and 12 months (n = 605), participants completed a 40-min interview and were tested for semen Y-chromosome with polymerase chain reaction from a self-administered vaginal swab. We predicted unprotected sex and pregnancy using multivariate regression controlling for demographics, economic factors, relationship attributes, and intervention status using a Poisson working model. Factors associated with unprotected sex included cohabitation (incidence risk ratio (IRR) 1.48, 95 % confidence interval (1.22, 1.81)), physical abuse (IRR 1.55 (1.21, 2.00)), emotional abuse (IRR 1.31 (1.06, 1.63)), and having a boyfriend as a primary source of spending money (IRR 1.18 (1.00, 1.39)). Factors associated with unplanned pregnancy 6 months later included being at least 4 years younger than the boyfriend (IRR 1.68 (1.14, 2.49)) and cohabitation (2.19 (1.35, 3.56)). Among minors, cohabitation predicted even larger risks of unprotected sex (IRR 1.93 (1.23, 3.03)) and unplanned pregnancy (3.84 (1.47, 10.0)). Adolescent cohabitation is a marker for unprotected sex and unplanned pregnancy, especially among minors. Cohabitation may have stemmed from greater commitment, but the shortage of affordable housing in urban areas could induce women to stay in relationships for housing. Pregnancy prevention interventions should attempt to delay cohabitation until adulthood and help cohabiting adolescents to find affordable housing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-510
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Volume93
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Condoms
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Safe sex
  • Unplanned pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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