The role of the social network in contraceptive decision-making among young, African American and Latina women

J Adolesc Health. 2010 Oct;47(4):374-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.03.014. Epub 2010 May 11.


Purpose: Understanding reasons for contraception decisions is critical to improving our ability to reduce rates of unintended pregnancies. We used an in-depth qualitative approach to examine the contraceptive decision-making process, with special attention to the role of the social network, among a group of young, postpartum urban minority women.

Methods: Brief surveys and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 consenting postpartum women. In-person one-on-one interviews were then reviewed for themes using an iterative process. Qualitative analysis techniques identifying emergent themes were applied to interview data.

Results: In this cohort of African American (63%) and Hispanic (37%) women (median age, 26), 73% had unplanned pregnancies. The social network, including friends, mothers, and partners, were key sources of contraception myths, misconceptions, and vicarious experiences. Women also utilized media, including the internet, as an additional source of information. Information relayed by the social network had a direct influence on contraceptive decisions for many women.

Conclusions: The experiences and opinions of the social network influence contraceptive decisions in this population of young, minority women. The social network, including friends, family members, and media sources, is a key source of contraceptive information for many women. Comprehensive contraception counseling should explore the experiences and opinions of the patient's social network to the extent possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Chicago
  • Communications Media
  • Consumer Health Information / methods
  • Contraception / psychology*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Support*
  • Urban Health
  • Young Adult