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Barriers of Care for Young Parents

Info: 1227 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 27th Nov 2017 in Nursing

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Young Parents’ Perceptions of Barriers to Antenatal and Postnatal Care

  • Eileen Bates, Scott Atwood

Pregnancy in the young adult population is lacking education, and supportive services. Young parents are faced with difficulties in returning to employment, and education or training. “In addition, young parents face an increased risk of social exclusion and postnatal depression” (Berrington et al, 2005). There was no research questions stated in this article. Currently, there is a scarce amount of literature on support for pregnancy in young adults. Ley’s (1982) cognitive model of adherence has three aspects: satisfaction, compliance, and communication; all three of which were applied to this study.

For protection of the participants’ rights, the ethical approval for the adolescent parents over the age of sixteen to be recruited was obtained by Kingston University, London, United Kingdom. For the research design in this study, mixed-methods were used. There was a questionnaire, and there were two focus groups. The sample and setting for this study was done with adolescent parents whom lived in London near a PCT. A PCT is similar to a Health Department.

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The adolescent parents in this study were defined as: a young person, or their partner whom conceived under the age of twenty-two. As an incentive, the participants were given supermarket vouchers. This study was done with predominantly white British young parents. Their ages ranged from 15-25 years old at the participants’ age of conception.

For data collection, the questionnaire contained five sections, with both open and closed-ended questions. The sections were as followed: a self-esteem measure, participant characteristics, future plans, antenatal needs and support, and postnatal needs and support. The procedure for the questionnaire was to pass out 58 questionnaires to divide the group into parents with high self-esteem, and low self-esteem.

The focus groups were designed to add detail, and information provided in the questionnaire. The procedure for the focus group was to divide the participants into two groups; antenatal and postnatal parents. Of the 58 participants used for the questionnaire, ten participants were chosen for the focus groups; three mothers and two fathers were in the antenatal group, and five mothers were in the postnatal group.

The questionnaires’ findings concluded that there was a trend among self-esteem, and the adolescent parents’ reaction to society’s treatment of them. “’I feel that society tends to make you feel like everyone is better than me, and that I am a disgrace’ (mother, age 18)” (Smith and Roberts, 2009). 37 of 58 participants attended antenatal support classes. Attendance positively correlated with self-esteem. More parents with high self-esteem attended the antenatal support classes than parents with low self-esteem. When asked the reason for not attending postnatal support classes, the main reason given was they did not know such classes were available.

The antenatal focus group’s findings concluded that, “All the young parents indicated that they would like to attend postnatal classes, but felt they were not given sufficient information about these classes to attend” (Smith and Roberts, 2009). The postnatal focus group’s findings concluded that relatives and friends were portrayed as the most helpful resource of postnatal support. All the young mothers perceived society to have a negative view of adolescent parents. “’They think you’re just a dirty little slag basically’ (mother, age 19)” (Smith and Roberts, 2009).

The study yields results that expand discussion on several different areas that may influence desire or ability to seek treatment. The one quality presented by test subjects universally was the desire to be a good parent (Smith & Roberts, 2009). Outside of this, influencing variables were labeled as self-esteem, age, and gender.

The results of the study conclude that varying levels of self-esteem influence attendance. Low self-esteem may be acting as a barrier to attendance while those with higher self-esteem seemed to be more likely to attend. The unknown aspect of self-esteem is that the study is unable to conclude if the increased levels of self-esteem were present prior to attendance or if attendance of support groups increased self-esteem (Smith & Roberts, 2009).

Secondly, age was an obstacle to attendance. Younger parents seemed to have a difficult time when mingling with older parents. Due to differences in financial situations, younger parents were discouraged when drawing comparisons between themselves and older parents and experienced feelings of insignificance (Runciman, 1966). Younger parents also reported less-than satisfactory experiences with health care professionals. These unsatisfactory experiences are thought to be related to the health team’s lack of training, knowledge, and communication skills related to young parents (Smith & Roberts, 2009).

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Lastly, gender had an effect on young parents seeking care. The issue was mostly related to the necessity of different education for each gender. Societal norms dictated roles for the mother and father which led to the father being left out of education regarding infant care (Warin, 1999). Smith and Roberts believe there is a need to include revisions to current teachings to better include young fathers.

The main revisions recommended to achieve improvement in the delivery of care for the population of this study is varying education and support systems. By extending time constraints to over 19, this would allow new young mothers more time to become mothers. Education delivery must also be changed, according to the study, so information can be better received by young parents. Lastly, the way information about programs that are already available is delivered to the target population must be changed due to the degree of isolation of the subjects (Smith and Roberts, 2009).

While the study is not perfect, it does open the door for improvement. The system of delivery must be made more targeted and precise. If education can be changed for healthcare professionals and the young parents, it may improve the outcomes of providing treatment to this under-treated population (Smith and Roberts, 2009).


Berrington A, Hernandez IC, Ingham R, Stevenson J (2005) Antecedents and outcomes of young fatherhood: Longitudinal evidence from the 1970 British birth cohort study. Final Report University of Southampton,Southampton

Ley P (1982) Satisfaction, compliance and communication. British Journal of Clinical Psychology 21: 241–54

Runciman WG (1966) Relative deprivation and social justice: A study of attitudes to social inequality in 20th Century England Routledge, London

Smith, D., & Roberts, R. (2009). Young parents’ perceptions of barriers to antenatal and postnatal care.British Journal Of Midwifery,17(10), 620.

Warin J, Solomon Y, Lewis C, Langford W (1999) Fathers, work and family life Family Policy Studies Centre, London


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