Unintended pregnancy is a substantial problem in the United States, with adverse consequences for women, their children, and society. Unintended pregnancy is especially prevalent among low-income and minority populations, and such disparities contribute to the cycle of disadvantage experienced by vulnerable populations. Our ongoing work examining how socio-cultural factors contribute to poor contraceptive behaviors among low-income, African-American and white women has revealed that pregnancy-promoting and coercive behavior by their male partners may play a significant role in the high unintended pregnancy rates observed in these populations. National and international family planning advocates and guidelines are calling for engaging men more actively in contraceptive decision making, yet the dearth of literature on men's attitudes towards contraceptive use and pregnancy and how attitudes may vary by race curtails the development of culturally-relevant interventions. Therefore, gaining insight into men's fertility-related attitudes and behaviors is a critical next step. We propose to conduct a qualitative study utilizing in-depth interviews with 60 low-income, adult AA and white men in Pittsburgh to gain insight about men's fertility intentions and behavior in a population that is at high risk of unintended pregnancy. A particular focus of this study will be to examine attitudes and social norms regarding reproductive coercion as one potential end of the spectrum of male fertility behavior. We will also pay close attention to themes that appear to be unique to each of the two racial groups.
The specific aims of the study are to: 1) describe the spectrum of fertility intentions and behaviors among low-income men, 2) explore the relationship between men's fertility intentions and behaviors;and 3) understand how cultural and structural factors shape men's fertility intentions and behaviors. As male partners appear to play a significant role in pregnancy decisions and outcomes, there is a need to better understand their contextualized perspectives on contraception, pregnancy, and parenthood. This study will complement our ongoing qualitative work with women to provide a more complete picture of the factors that influence family planning and allow us to pinpoint specific contextual factors that contribute to poor contraceptive behaviors and risk for unintended pregnancy among low-income, AA and white populations in Pittsburgh, PA. The ultimate goal of this research is to empower women and men, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, to make effective reproductive decisions and reduce unintended and/or unilaterally- desired pregnancies.

Public Health Relevance

Unintended pregnancy is an enormous problem in the United States, and racial/ethnic minorities are at particularly high risk. Given that male partners influence reproductive decisions and outcomes, understanding men's fertility-related attitudes and behaviors and how these vary by race may provide more insights to understand the observed racial disparity in unintended pregnancy rates. This research will lay the groundwork for culturally-relevant programs that seek to bridge men's and women's fertility goals and maximize the potential for increasing the proportion of pregnancies that are congruently and consciously desired.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
Program Officer
Newcomer, Susan
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University of Pittsburgh
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Hamm, Megan; Miller, Elizabeth; Jackson Foster, Lovie et al. (2018) ""The Financial Is the Main Issue, It's Not Even the Child"": Exploring the Role of Finances in Men's Concepts of Fatherhood and Fertility Intention. Am J Mens Health 12:1074-1083
Evans, Mark W; Borrero, Sonya; Yabes, Jonathan et al. (2017) Sexual Behaviors and Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Male Veterans and Nonveterans. Am J Mens Health 11:791-800
Aiken, Abigail R A; Borrero, Sonya; Callegari, Lisa S et al. (2016) Rethinking the Pregnancy Planning Paradigm: Unintended Conceptions or Unrepresentative Concepts? Perspect Sex Reprod Health 48:147-51
Farkas, Amy H; Vanderberg, Rachel; Sucato, Gina S et al. (2015) Racial and ethnic differences in young men's sex and contraceptive education. J Adolesc Health 56:464-7