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Stigma and adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Ghana

Kelli Hall, PhD, MS, University of Michigan

Project abstract

Background: Adolescent pregnancy rates are exceedingly high in Africa and contribute to unsafe abortion and maternal mortality. Despite awareness of family planning methods and services in Ghana, the prevalence of modern contraception is low and declining. Stigma surrounding adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) may be an important barrier to contraception among young Ghanaian women but has been understudied in African family planning research.

Methods: This study employs quantitative and qualitative methods to develop a new scale to measure stigma associated with adolescent SRH and explore relationships between adolescent SRH stigma and modern contraception and family planning service use among adolescents in Ghana. Preliminary work, including focus groups and individual interviews, in conjunction with a comprehensive literature review and consultation with experts, will inform development of new adolescent SRH stigma scale items. We will administer the SRH stigma scale to 600 young women ages 15-24 recruited from senior high schools, universities and health centers in Accra and Kumasi. We will use exploratory factor analysis to validate the SRH stigma scale and bivariate and multivariable statistics to investigate associations between adolescent SRH stigma and family planning outcomes.

Anticipated results: This study will provide a more comprehensive understanding of social determinants of adolescent SRH and the role of stigma as a barrier to family planning among young women in Ghana. Findings will inform a subsequent larger study on adolescent SRH stigma, ultimately to identify public health strategies to de-stigmatize adolescent SRH and improve reproductive outcomes for young women in Africa and worldwide.

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