Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Tales from the "Hood:" Placing Reproductive Health Communication between African American Fathers and Children in Context

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Tales from the "Hood:" Placing Reproductive Health Communication between African American Fathers and Children in Context

Article excerpt

Abstract: Objective: To evaluate reproductive health communication between African American fathers and their children. Design: In this qualitative ethnographic study, data were collected through tape-recorded individual interviews about the content and timing of reproductive health communication, the reproductive health values fathers intended to impart to their children, and their comfort level in doing so. Sample: A total sample of 19 African-American fathers participated. Measurements: Data were coded according to the qualitative analytic principles established by Miles and Huberman (1994), and analyzed using manifest and latent content analysis approaches. Results: Although 10 fathers reported feeling uncomfortable having these conversations, 18 reported having reproductive health communication with their children, and most encouraged their sons and daughters to delay sex until adulthood. These conversations were primarily driven by the fear of HIV/AIDS and the negative consequences of sex; however, some conversations were inappropriate for developmental age. Conclusions: African-American fathers may benefit from education to help them have age appropriate reproductive health communication with their children. Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners are well positioned to educate African American adolescents and their fathers on reproductive health. Future dyadic African American father-child studies are needed to explore more fully African-American children's perceptions of reproductive health communication and the effect on delaying sex.

Key Words: Reproductive Health, Communication, African American, Father

Introduction

Major disparities in African American reproductive health morbidity continue despite decades of aggregate decreases. Amongst the leading causes of morbidity and mortality are sexually transmitted infections including HIV/ AIDs, unwanted pregnancies and abortions which are most prevalent in African Americans. The dilemma however begins with an earlier occurrence of physical development in adolescent African Americans compared with same age White counterparts. African-American females begin menstruation as early as age 8 with 48.3% of Afican- American girls compared with 14.7% of Whites having an early menarche (Meschke, Zweig, Barber, & Eccles, 2000). African-American males also develop earlier than their counterparts (Herman-Giddens, Wang, & Koch, 2001). As well, both male and female African- Americans have an earlier onset of sex before age 13 at more than 4 times the prevalence in comparison to White adolescents, and are more likely to have had sex with four or more partners (CDC, 2006). Further accelerating participation in sex are environmental factors including greater exposure to more sexually active peers (Nahom et al., 2001; O'Donnell, Myint-U, O'Donnell & Stueve, 2003) and living in more single parent homes (Calhoun and Friel, 2001; Wu and Thomson, 2001). According to the 2004 U.S Census Bureau as many as 44.5% of African- American homes were headed by single mothers, compared with 13.2% White homes. In terms of morbidities, 15% of African- Americans were adolescents yet they represented 73% of new HIV cases reported in 2004. Compared with White adolescents African-Americans had Chlamydia at rates twice as often, syphilis rates were nearly 6 times higher, and gonorrhea rates were nearly five times as prevalent with increased rates during 2005 to 2006 among 15 to 19 year olds (CDC, 2006). Sexually transmitted infections, often times asymptomatic, can remain untreated particularly in unsuspecting adolescents thus increasing transmission risks and the risks of complications from cancers, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancies (CDC, 2006). What's more, African-American adolescent pregnancy rates were twice that of White adolescents and abortions of unwanted pregnancies were three times the rate of White adolescents (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). …

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