Anu Manchikanti Gomez, PhD, MSc, is a public health researcher and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University. Dr. Gomez's long-term career objective is to develop partner-based interventions for young men and women that promote healthy relationships and contraceptive use, especially among minority and immigrant youth in the US. Moreover, she aims to conduct innovative, policy-relevant research that considers other contextual risk factors for adverse reproductive health. The NICHD K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award will provide the necessary support for Dr. Gomez to receive essential training for studying the determinants of unintended pregnancy at the couple level, particularly in the areas of social psychology, dyadic research methods, and intervention and policy development. The proposed research focuses on 18-24-year-old Latina women and their male partners. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the US during 2001 were unintended, with the highest unintended birth rate among Latina women. Moreover, young women between the ages of 18-24 are more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy than any other age group of women. Efforts to decrease unintended pregnancies among young Latinas have been hindered by lack of understanding of how relationship dynamics, cultural context, and pregnancy intentions among couples combine to reduce effective contraceptive use. The proposed, mixed methods research will address this gap by: (1) identifying the influences of a couple's relationship factors on pregnancy intentions;(2) developing a culturally appropriate, couple-level measure of ambivalence towards pregnancy intentions;and (3) testing the association of pregnancy intentions and relationship factors to contraceptive use over time. It is expected that this research will reveal aspects of couple-level relationship dynamics specific to young Latina women and their partners, and provide unique and powerful data to inform the development of an intervention in the future.
Because virtually all unintended pregnancies involve a man and a woman, it is crucial to examine this issue from a couple's perspective. This study will investigate how pregnancy intentions and relationship factors, such as commitment, trust and intimacy, influence contraceptive use among 18-24-year-old Latina women and their male partners. A better understanding of how pregnancy intentions, cultural factors and relationship factors operate within couples will aid in the development of an intervention to promote contraceptive use.