Applying the Theory of Reasoned Action to Understanding Teen Pregnancy with American Indian Communities

Elizabeth A. Dippel, Jessica D. Hanson, Tracey R. McMahon, Emily R. Griese, Den Yelle B. Kenyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives American Indian girls have higher teen pregnancy rates than the national rate. Intervention studies that utilize the Theory of Reasoned Action have found that changing attitudes and subjective norms often leads to subsequent change in a variety of health behaviors in young adults. The current study goal is to better understand sexual decision-making among American Indian youth using the Theory of Reasoned Action model and to introduce ways to utilize attitudes and subjective norms to modify risky behaviors. Methods The project collected qualitative data at a reservation site and an urban site through 16 focus groups with American Indian young people aged 16–24. Results Attitudes towards, perceived impact of, and perception of how others felt about teen pregnancy vary between American Indian parents and non-parents. Particularly, young American Indian parents felt more negatively about teen pregnancy. Participants also perceived a larger impact on female than male teen parents. Conclusions There are differences between American Indian parents and non-parents regarding attitudes towards, the perceived impact of, and how they perceived others felt about teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy prevention programs for American Indian youth should include youth parents in curriculum creation and curriculum that addresses normative beliefs about teen pregnancy and provides education on the ramifications of teen pregnancy to change attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1456
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • American Indians
  • Sexual health
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Theory of Reasoned Action
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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