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Adolescent experiences of pregnancy in low-and middle-income countries: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies

Crooks, Rachel, Bedwell, Carol and Lavender, Tina (2022) 'Adolescent experiences of pregnancy in low-and middle-income countries: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies'. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, Vol 22, Issue 1, e702.

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Background: Fertility rates among adolescents have fallen globally, yet the greatest incidence remains in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Gaining insight into adolescents needs and experiences of pregnancy will help identify if context specific services meet their needs and how to optimise pregnancy experiences. A meta-synthesis of qualitative studies considering adolescent experiences of pregnancy in LMICs has not yet been published. Aim: To synthesise available qualitative evidence to provide greater understanding of the needs and experiences of adolescents who become pregnant in low-and middle-income countries.

Methods: An extensive search utilised six databases and citations searching. Studies were included if they were of a qualitative or mixed methods design. Participants lived in LMICs and were adolescents who were pregnant, had experienced pregnancy during adolescence or were an adolescent male partner. Relevant studies were assessed for quality to determine suitability for inclusion. A meta-ethnography approach was used to generate themes and a final line of argument.

Results: After screening and quality assessment 21 studies were included. The meta-ethnography generated four themes, A wealth of emotions, I am not ready, Impactful relationships and Respectful and disrespectful care. Unplanned, unwanted and unacceptable pregnancies were a source of shame, with subsequent challenging personal relationships and frequently a lack of needed support. Even when pregnancy was wanted, adolescents faced the internal conflict of their desires not always aligning with socio-cultural, religious and family expectations. Access, utilisation and experiences of care were significantly impacted by adolescents’ relationships with others, the level of respectful care experienced, and engagement with adolescent friendly services.

Conclusions: Adolescents who experience pregnancy in LMICs deserve support to meet their personal and pregnancy needs; efforts are needed to tailor the support provided. A lack of a health care provider knowledge and skills is an obstacle to optimal support, with more and better training integral to increasing the availability of adolescent friendly and respectful care. Adolescents should be involved in the planning of health care services and supported to make decisions about their care. The diversity across countries mean policy makers and other stakeholders need to consider how these implications can be realised in each context.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: W General Medicine. Health Professions > Health Services. Patients and Patient Advocacy > W 84.4 Quality of Health Care
WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 310 Maternal welfare
WQ Obstetrics > Pregnancy > WQ 200 General works
WS Pediatrics > By Age Groups > WS 460 Adolescence (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 09:17
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2022 09:17


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