Exploring key dimensions of pregnancy intentions

John Santelli, Columbia University
Laura Lindberg, Guttmacher Institute
Mark G. Orr, Columbia University
Lawrence B. Finer, Guttmacher Institute

Widely-used simple categorical measures of pregnancy intentions do not well represent the complexity of factors involved in women’s intentions. We used a variety of exploratory statistical methods to examine measures of pregnancy intention in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (n=3,032 pregnancies). Factor analyses identified two key dimensions of pregnancy intentions: (1) Desire and (2) Mistiming, and two smaller non-dimensional categories (Overdue and Don’t Care). Desire included both affective and cognitive variables, as well as partner-specific factors. Similar pregnancy intention dimensions were found for adolescent and adult women, across socioeconomic status, and among racial and ethnic groups. Both Desire and Mistiming were highly predictive of the decision to abort or continue the pregnancy. These analyses strongly support prior demographic thinking about the importance of both timing of pregnancy and wanting a baby, but call into question the use of simple categorical measures.

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Presented in Session 86: Unintended pregnancies