Perspectives on Confidential Care for Adolescent Girls

Despite the importance of access to risk-appropriate reproductive care, there is limited information on the perspectives of mothers and daughters about facilitators and barriers to receiving this care. Researchers conducted five focus groups with a total of 39 Latina and African-American participants from five community health centers in Bronx, N.Y. Three groups were held with mothers and two groups with their adolescent daughters (16 to 19 years of age). Participants were grouped by race/ethnicity and led by a trained moderator of similar race/ethnicity. All questions were open ended and covered three content areas: mothers' roles in helping girls initiate gynecological care, the perceived role of physicians in daughters' sexual health—including the provision of confidential care, and perceived need for girls' gynecologic care. The focus groups were audio taped, transcribed and analyzed by a team of three researchers using NVivo qualitative data software analysis program and a grounded theory approach.

Key Findings:

  • Mothers believed they had primary roles in preventing negative reproductive outcomes for their daughters.
  • A number of mothers were concerned that confidential care encourages risky sexual behavior and viewed the role of gynecologic care as taking place after sexual debut.
  • About one-third of mothers reported knowing their daughters were sexually active, while two-thirds of daughters reported being sexually active.
  • Adolescent girls were concerned with issues of confidentiality and expressed discomfort around reproductive health care and their mothers' involvement.