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The Role of Violence in the Processes Leading to Unintended Pregnancy

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Jennifer S. Barber

The overarching question for the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study asks how prevalent unintended pregnancy is during the transition to adulthood, and why. The study begins with a baseline interview of a cohort of approximately 1,000 young women. Immediately following, each young woman enrolls in a weekly journal study for a period of 2.5 years. This weekly 5-minute online or phone interview provides dynamic measures of rapidly changing aspects of their lives, including relationships, contraceptive use, pregnancies, education, employment, and other relevant activities. We also conduct semi-structured follow-up interviews with the women who experience pregnancies, as well as a comparison group of those who avoid pregnancy. The semi-structured interviews have helped us to generate a new hypothesis about why young women have unintended pregnancies. We have found the experience of violence to be a common characteristic among almost all of the women we have interviewed. To learn more about the relationship between violence and unintended pregnancy, we will expand the scope of the ongoing panel study by conducting a supplemental survey interview with study participants to collect new data on violence. The interview has three specific aims: (1) collect data to be used to advance our understanding of the role of violence in the processes leading to unintended pregnancy during the transition to adulthood; (2) collect preliminary data to be used in an upcoming proposal intended to expand the aims of the original study; and (3) increase response rates. Our past experience with supplemental interviews is that they renew respondent interest in the main study. Thus, we expect the interview proposed here will also serve to increase response rates in the ongoing panel study.

Funding Period: 02/01/2010 to 06/30/2011

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