Although teen pregnancy rates have fluctuated in recent years, they remain high. Understanding pregnancy desires is fundamentally important for reducing teen pregnancy. Current state-of-the-art conceptualization and measurement of pregnancy desires suffer from serious limitations that dramatically undermine our ability to understand the processes that link pregnancy desires and subsequent pregnancy.
Our overarching goal for the proposed project is to advance our understanding of the relationship between pregnancy desires and subsequent pregnancy, by improving our conceptualization, measurement, and understanding of pregnancy desires. To achieve this goal, we have four specific aims:
1. Investigate the Measurement of Pregnancy Desires. Here, we will build on our prior work to investigate the measurement properties of our thirteen distinct measures of pregnancy desire.
2. Analyze the Role of Perceptions of Partner?s? Pregnancy Desires. Hypothesis: Young women?s own pregnancy desires, and perceptions of their partners? pregnancy desires, will have strong and independent links to subsequent pregnancy.
3. Describe and Predict the Dynamics of Pregnancy Desires. Hypothesis: There are distinct classes of pregnancy desire trajectories in this age group.
4. Estimate the Influence of Dynamic Pregnancy Desires on Subsequent Pregnancy. Guiding Hypothesis : Prior individual pregnancy desire, as well as current individual and partner pregnancy desire, will more accurately predict a young woman’s risk of pregnancy than current or past desires alone.
To meet these specific aims, we propose to use a unique dataset from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study. RDSL began with a face-to-face baseline survey of 1,003 18- and 19-year-old women. Over the next 2.5 years, these women provided weekly updates about their desire for pregnancy, and about experiences with pregnancy, relationships, contraceptive use, and related attitudes. Over the 2.5-year study period, which ended in February, 2012, the young women reported 233 pregnancies. The analyses proposed here were not part of the original RDSL proposal.
The proposed project includes at least three major innovations: (1) thirteen detailed and nuanced measures of pregnancy desire; (2) measures of perceptions of partners? pregnancy desires across all relationships in the period of observation (including short-lived and/or unstable relationships); (3) weekly measures of all aspects of pregnancy desire, representing the dynamics in these desires.