Perceptions of prenatal care in older adolescent Latinas



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The knowledge that initiation of prenatal care after the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with poor fetal and maternal outcomes has led to increased efforts to improve access to prenatal care in the U.S. Despite these efforts, Latinas continue to underutilize these services and enter care late. Pregnant adolescent Latinas are at increased risk for morbidity and mortality during pregnancy and labor, thereby increasing risks for mortality, blindness, deafness, mental retardation, and cerebral palsy in their the neonates. The current literature surrounding perceptions of prenatal care focuses on women overall without taking into account culture, ethnicity or age. Thus, little is known about adolescent Latinas’ perceptions of prenatal care and why they enter care late. Hence the purpose of this study was to critique the literature regarding Latinas and their perceptions of prenatal care; to determine the psychometric properties of The Perceptions of Prenatal Care Survey which was piloted in the Phase I of the dissertation; to identify perceptions of prenatal care in older adolescent Latinas utilizing the Access Barriers to Care Index and the Perceptions of Prenatal Care Survey in Phase II of the study; and to determine if relationships exist between variables in the conceptual model and participants’ adequacy of and timely entry into prenatal care. Phase I revealed the survey had good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.88) and validity (S-CVI =0.81). Phase II revealed that a majority (94.5%) of participants perceived that timely prenatal care as important; however, only 55.6% entered care on time. Over 70% of the sample had experienced personal and healthcare imposed barriers when accessing prenatal care. Social support from partners and friends was associated with adequate prenatal care; and having some college education was associated with timely prenatal care. Influence from healthcare workers did not have a statistically significant effect on timely or adequate prenatal care. Due to sampling issues and possible response bias, the study is limited. Future research on this topic calls for more stringent sampling measures that will take race, acculturation, nativity and immigration status into consideration.