The influence of significant others on Australian teenagers' decisions about pregnancy resolution

Fam Plann Perspect. 2001 Sep-Oct;33(5):224-30.


Context: Teenagers' decisions about how to resolve a pregnancy are made in the context of a society, a family and a relationship with a partner. Little is known about how such decisions are made, however, particularly in Australia.

Methods: The association between the influence--both direct and indirect--of significant others and adolescent women's decisions to terminate or continue a pregnancy is examined here using data from a case-control study on 1,324 pregnant teenagers in Australia. Bivariate analyses were used to explore the association between pregnancy resolution and direct or indirect influence toward abortion or birth. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to model the association between significant others' influence and teenagers'pregnancy resolution decisions while controlling for adolescent women's background characteristics.

Results: Teenagers who reported that their partner influenced them toward abortion had significantly increased odds of choosing abortion (10.4), and those whose partner influenced them toward motherhood had significantly reduced odds of choosing abortion (0.5). Direct influence from parents toward either abortion or motherhood was not significantly associated with teenagers' decisions. Mothers are an important source of indirect influence, however: Teenagers whose mother had become a mother as a teenager had reduced odds of choosing abortion (0.4), and those whose mother had ever had an abortion had increased odds of choosing abortion (2. 1). Teenagers who had a sister who had ever had an abortion had significantly increased odds of choosing abortion (2.4).

Conclusion: While most young women report they were not directly influenced by a significant other in their decision to continue or terminate a pregnancy, pregnancy resolution decisions are affected by families and partners, often indirectly. These findings have important implications for the manner in which services are delivered to these young women.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Decision Making*
  • Demography
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New South Wales
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology*
  • Spouses
  • Surveys and Questionnaires