Perceived lower social standing linked to unplanned pregnancies

Research Activities, April 2011, No. 368

More than a third of pregnant women in the San Francisco Bay area were not planning to become pregnant, according to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco. Of the 1,070 women who completed study questionnaires, black women reported the highest rate of unintended pregnancies (62 percent) while white women reported the lowest rate (23 percent). Further, although 18 percent of the study participants were black women, they accounted for 33 percent of the unintended pregnancies.

The authors examined fatalism and subjective social standing to determine if they were associated with unintended pregnancies. Fatalism, or the que será será belief that events are inevitable, was not associated with unintended pregnancies. However, subjective social standing, a self assessment in which women rank themselves in comparison with others, was associated with unintended pregnancies for white women and women born in the United States. The lower the woman's level of self-perceived social standing, the more likely her pregnancy was unplanned.

Preventing unplanned pregnancies is a public health issue, because some studies indicate that women in this situation may not pursue early prenatal care or may not alter their health behaviors to ensure a healthy baby. The authors suggest that while pregnancy prevention programs are often aimed at women with low socioeconomic status, these programs may be missing additional targets because they ignore at-risk women with higher incomes. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10856).

See "Race/ethnicity and pregnancy decision making: The role of fatalism and subjective social standing," by Allison S. Bryant, M.D., M.P.H., Sanae Nakagawa, M.A., Steven E. Gregorich, Ph.D., and Miriam Kuppermann, Ph.D., M.P.H., in the Journal of Women's Health 19(6), pp. 1195-1200, 2010.

Current as of April 2011
Internet Citation: Perceived lower social standing linked to unplanned pregnancies: Research Activities, April 2011, No. 368. April 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.