Exploring Nurses’ Perceptions of Adolescent Mothers and Families

Publication Date


Document Type



Social Work


Kathryn Conley Wehrmann

Mentor Department

Social Work


The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions nursing staff have of adolescent mothers and families. Adolescent mothers, as they represent a vulnerable population, are often thought of in relation to the life-long, negative consequences that are caused by an early and unplanned pregnancy at this stage in life. Many programs and research studies focus on how to prevent adolescent pregnancy and on what an adolescent pregnancy will cause the adolescent family to be at a higher risk of having. Health disparities among childbearing adolescents and their children are well documented in research. Herrman (2010) states: “Children of teen mothers are more likely to be hospitalized, have health problems and chronic illness, incur greater health care costs, live in poverty and become teen parents themselves …[Additionally], children of young parents have a greater risk of being homeless, incarcerated and involved in juvenile delinquency, and to drop out of high school and to be abused…Young mothers…are less likely to graduate high school, more likely to require public subsidy and less likely to have stable home lives” (Herrman, 2010, p.214). However, as professionals working with this vulnerable population, we must also examine how we are approaching childbearing adolescents and what is being done to support the success of adolescent families despite the documented disparities. Cassata and Dallas (2005) state that nurses are among the top professionals to interact with childbearing adolescents, especially in the field of healthcare. While there is not an extensive amount of research in this area, research does indicate that nursing staff can play an important and pivotal role in adolescent birth experiences and health outcomes. An exploratory study utilizing surveys distributed to nursing staff on labor and delivery, postpartum and nursery units will examine how nurses feel regarding various aspects of adolescent mothers’ level of understanding, engagement and support before, during and after their child’s birth. “Assessing attitudes of nurses is the beginning step towards research that can measure ways that nurses contribute to the health outcomes and minimize health disparities of childbearing adolescents and their families” (Cassata & Dallas, 2005, p.75). Through collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, the study should reflect whether or not the nursing staff’s perceptions of adolescent mothers and families have an effect on the care they provide to childbearing adolescents. The goal of the study is to ultimately assess how the social worker can educate and assist nursing staff in ensuring that adolescent mothers have a positive labor, delivery and discharge experience. Cassata, L., & Dallas, C. (2005). Nurses' Attitudes and Childbearing Adolescents: Bridging the Cultural Chasm. The ABNF Journal, 16(4), 71-76. Herrman, J. W. (2010). Assessing the Teen Parent Family: The Role for Nurses. Nursing for Women's Health, 14(3), 212-221.



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