A research project that will investigate why teen pregnancy rates are higher in Yarmouth is contacting local people to participate in a survey.
“We are in the process of contacting key informants who are able to give their views about what factors might be behind high rates of teen age pregnancy,” says Don Langille, Professor, Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University and project lead. Teen pregnancy rates are higher in Yarmouth than many other similar towns in Nova Scotia.
Key informants will be teachers, health care professionals, parents and youth. They will be asked to participate because they have special insights about youth in the community and they know the community well.
Dalhousie University and a group of partners from the Yarmouth area, including South West Health, have received a three-year research grant to investigate the issue.
Funding in the amount of $150,000 has been approved by the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation for the project which is entitled “Investigating Determinants of Adolescent Pregnancy: A Study of Factors Influencing Youth Behaviours in a Rural Nova Scotia Community”. “Ultimately we want to provide recommendations to support prevention,” says Langille. “We have a very strong working group committee that will guide us through the research process. Clearly health agencies and organizations in Yarmouth are concerned about teen pregnancy rates and want to be involved in the project,” he adds.
The rate of teen pregnancy in Nova Scotia is very different depending on the community where young women live. Significantly more young women from Yarmouth become pregnant before age 20 than in other similar sized communities in the province. Working with the Yarmouth Working Group for the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy, the research team will gather data about factors that influence adolescent sexual risk behaviours and can lead to pregnancy.
The findings will be discussed with adolescents and adults in Yarmouth to determine how important they feel each factor is in relation to others, how the factors “work” to influence adolescent pregnancy, and whether they can be changed.
From there, the research team will work with the working group and other stakeholders to determine which factors might be the best focus for developing local intervention strategies to be used for local policy and programming. “As the project develops we look forward to sharing more details with the community,” says Langille.
Project partners include, Dalhousie University, South West Health, physicians, Tri-County Regional School Board, Yarmouth County Community Health Board, Tri-County Women’s Resource Centre, Université Sainte-Anne, Tri-County Pregnancy Care Centre, Community Services, Planned Parenthood, RCMP Yarmouth detachment, parents and youth.