Small-scale research on Latinos and contraception is 'one piece of a bigger puzzle'
Understanding cultural circumstances can help healthcare providers tailor family planning services.
February 17th, 2012
12:39 PM ET

Small-scale research on Latinos and contraception is 'one piece of a bigger puzzle'

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, three in ten teenage girls will become pregnant at least once before they turn 20, but for Latina girls that rate is higher – about five in ten. There are many efforts targeting that demographic, but few of them address Latinos living outside of cities or in northwestern states that have only recently begun to see an influx of Latino immigrants.

The diversity of America's Latinos – in terms of national ancestry, socioeconomic status, level of acculturation, geographic region and educational levels means that there won't be just one overarching solution for preventing unintended pregnancies. But studies like a recent one done by Oregon State University researchers S. Maria Harvey and Jocelyn Warren, which examine a tiny subset of that population, can serve as important clues.

"Characteristics Related to Effective Contraceptive Use Among a Sample of Nonurban Latinos" was one of a number of Centers for Disease Control-funded studies looking at contraception use among Latinos in rural areas. The study results reflect a relatively narrow sample, and its authors caution that it shouldn’t be used to assume too much about Latinos' sexual health decisions as a whole. But it can help focus local efforts.

Researchers surveyed 450 Latino men and women in four rural counties in Oregon, ages 18-25, who were in sexually active relationships.

"There's been a lot more efforts focused on teens, but the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy are among young adults," said Harvey, the study’s principal investigator.

The study found that men participated more than expected when couples made decisions about what contraception to use, and suggested that programs aimed at preventing unplanned pregnancy need to appeal to them as well as to women.

"We focus on women when it comes to reproductive health and family planning, (but) the finding we see is that men play an important role around family planning and what method to use," Harvey said. "Their motivation is important, just as the woman's motivation is important… We probably need to have more male nurses and family planning providers as well."

Participants in the study also indicated that some of the jargon used by family planning service providers is not making it through the language barrier.

"In talking about 'family planning' with Latino men, one participant said 'Oh I don't need family planning, because I’m not planning on having a family.' And yet he was sexually active," Harvey said. “So especially for newcomers [to the U.S.], it's important to define terminology."

But the researchers also found that the less acculturated the respondent was to American culture, the more likely they were to use female birth control (such as birth control pills, contraceptive injections, or devices worn inside the female body like IUDs or diaphragms) as opposed to no contraceptive at all. Acculturation was measured by asking about respondents' preferences for English or Spanish language media, their use of English and Spanish, and the diversity of their social circle.  Researchers weren't sure why there seemed to be such a connection, but Harvey speculated that it might be related to cultural attitudes that regard pregnancy and motherhood as the woman’s domain.

"As more Latinas and Latinos come to Oregon we need to be better equipped to meet their needs, and know how to reach out to them," Harvey said. "In all research, it all is just one piece of the bigger puzzle, adding to the larger body of research."

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Filed under: Community • Ethnicity • Family • Gender • Health • How we live • Immigration • Language • Latino in America • Relationships • Where we live
soundoff (17 Responses)


    February 21, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Yepyep6598

    Do nt lump Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, South Americans, and Central Americans with Mexicans believe me they are waaaaaay different in a very good way.

    February 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Criolla

    Here we go again lumping people as a race when we are as diferent from each other as a Dane and an Eskimo, latins can be white, decendants of inmigrantes from Europe, criollos descendants from Spaniards from the Colonial time, mestizos, zambos,mulattos, each country has their own culture,values, foods, etc. Mexican have every year a kid, Mexico over polulated, Bolivians have small families the country one the most underpopulated.
    People asimilate faster than others based on where they are from. Indigenous people are also diferent from each other an Ayamara us not the same as a Quechua or Mapuche or others.
    Only in the US they want us to be a "race" when we do not have nothing in common with each other, is like saying to an Irish is English , almost an Insult in Ireland.
    I refused to be lumped together only to make some people get electec, gain points to enter College or what ever, I am proud of my roots as a Bolivian and very proud of my choice of my second country THE USA.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • CB1111

      Well said. I expect the blogs to be filled with ignorance, but it's frustrating that the media can't get basic facts correct about ethnic groups, anthropology. They fill stories with misinformation.
      Ever try to fill out a form defining ethnicity/race and not fit the box? I do not have a category because of these stupid stereotypes about Hispanics.

      The implication is ethnicity causes pregnancy, but I see no comparison study to break this down by income, education, etc. therefore without a control on the study, conclusions can be spurious and should be suspect.

      February 21, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sal

    i am a latino, alot of latina girls get pregnant it has some factors, falling deeply in "love", first comes love then comes pregnancy. Some don't like to be lonely or scared to not find any one else. The sad part about it is that the guy leaves the girl so she is stuck by her self leaving her with the child. I hate irresponsible men

    February 20, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nick

    What? Latinos use birth-control? had me fooled.

    February 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      you jerk! you beat me to it! lol

      February 19, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Criolla

      Educate yourself, Learn about others.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. arale norimaki

    The reason that you think you can’t get into college, is because you haven’t been taught

    You got pregnant, you have to raise the child!” So then you have to raise the child while all the other girls get to go to college.

    February 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. steve

    3 in 10, 5 in ten ? 1 in 10 is high for 20 yrs and under. who pays for this besides the child ? latino drop out rate is way high as well. poor are taking over.

    February 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kelly

    This damn Josh is like an idiot..

    February 17, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jake

    Reconquista. 'Nuff said.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    these damn mexicans and so called latinos are like roaches and locusts. moving from place to place using up all the resources and multiplying at a un natural rate.

    February 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tachoman

      No! It's a mexican conspiracy to retake their lost territories withou firing a single shot! Brilliant!

      Joke over, ease over on the hatred less you start resembling Hitler, beisdes I am yet to know someone who doesn't like mexican food.

      February 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      That's not a very nice comment, to ay the least. Latinos and all the indigenous people have been here longer than you or I. Please don't accuse them of whatever it is you are accusing them. Let's respect each other, all of us.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
      • Pianoman

        Ha Ha Ha

        February 20, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
      • Mara

        'Latino's" weren't latino's before the Spanish and Portugese conquered their ancestors. To say that Latino's are indiginous, or native, to the America's completely ignores exactly what a latino is – a mestizo. They have European blood too, same as me, same as Josh, same as you. After a century or two of interbreeding, there aren't that many pure-blood 'indiginous people' left, but a whole lot of us with indiginous ancestors. So don't try the 'Latino's have been here longer". Some of *my* ancestors were native too.

        February 20, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |