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Jennifer S. Barber photo

Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study

a PSC Affiliated Research Program

Jennifer S. Barber, Yasamin Kusunoki, Heather Gatny

The Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study was designed to investigate the types of romantic relationships, and the attendant social and behavioral processes, that produce unintended pregnancies in early adulthood. The study began with a random, population-representative sample of 1,003 young women, ages 18-19, residing in Genesee County, Michigan, who were followed for 2 ½ years. The study focused on women while they were between the ages of 18 and 22 because these ages are characterized by the highest rates of unintended pregnancy, as well as significant instability and change in the proximate determinants of unintended pregnancy.

The baseline survey was conducted from March 2008 through July 2009, and consisted of a 50-minute face-to-face interview to gather information on young women's attitudes and behaviors, intimate relationships, contraceptive use, reproductive history, and socio-demographic background.

The second major component of the RDSL features weekly surveys for 2 ½ years following the baseline survey. This part of RDSL concluded in January 2012. The focus of the weekly data collection was dynamic measurement of pregnancy desires, contraceptive use, and intimate relationships.

RDSL also includes three supplemental surveys administered between May 2009 and August 2011. These surveys covered a wide range of topics, including family living arrangements, socioeconomic characteristics, employment, media consumption, mental health, violence, personality traits, assumptions and knowledge regarding various forms of contraception, and attitudes and opinions about social life.

The RDSL study team also conducted semi-structured interviews with 40 pregnant respondents and 32 otherwise similar respondents who avoided pregnancy during the study period.

Project website: https://rdsl.psc.isr.umich.edu/

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