Objectives: The high rate of teenage pregnancy in the United Kingdom continues to be a concern. Factors such as living in a deprived area, poor educational attainment, and living in state-provided care homes have been associated with a greater risk of young motherhood. This study aimed to examine the literature describing perceptions of young people, with a view to gaining a greater understanding of individual contraceptive use and risk factors for young motherhood.
Methods: A systematic review of studies reporting qualitative data was undertaken. Data were synthesised to develop key themes.
Results: Thirty-four papers using qualitative or mixed methods were included in the review. Five key themes are reported; they relate to: use or non-use of contraceptives; attitude to pregnancy; views regarding different forms of contraception; influences on views; gender differences.
Conclusions: The review highlights that individual conceptions of risk, differing perceptions of benefits and concerns regarding the forms of contraception, and varying attitudes towards pregnancy, continue to present obstacles to changing behaviour, particularly in high risk groups. There seems to be a need for interventions to further address negative perceptions of contraceptives, and place a greater emphasis on exploring value judgements regarding contraception and young motherhood.