Background Teenage pregnancy continues to be a serious maternal health issue globally. Problems faced by teenage mothers are biological, social, and psychological, and may include sexual coercion and violence. This study sought to explore formally the knowledge, attitudes and practices of pregnant teenagers in Georgetown, Guyana, which has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Methods This was a cross-sectional, prospective study. After ethical approval had been granted, 50 pregnant girls attending Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) were interviewed during a 6-week period. Using a convenience sample approach, the principal investigator used a questionnaire to collect data. This was then analysed using Stata/SE V.9.2 and Microsoft Excel programs.
Findings As well as overall poor sexual and reproductive health knowledge and high-risk sexual health practices, our study revealed a high rate of rape and sexual coercion among the 50 girls interviewed. Almost a quarter (22%) admitted to having been raped in the past, and 80% stated a lack of power in their sexual relationships.
Conclusions There is a need for more targeted sexual and reproductive health services for teenagers attending GPHC, and for more research into sexual violence among this group of women. The establishment of a screening and referral system for those at risk should begin to address specific issues and optimise health outcomes for the women and their babies.
- health education
- service delivery
- needs assessment
- sexually transmitted infections
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