Evelyn King-Marshall: Achievement Motivation Association with Teen Birth and Repeat Birth: a Qualitative Study.

Published: August 9th, 2011

Category: Student News

Evelyn King-Marshall I graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Health Science in 2005; I went on to complete my MPH with a concentration Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2007. Following graduation, I worked at the Bradford and Union County Health Departments as a program manager. I was responsible for a grant that funded an abstinence only sexual education program implemented in Bradford and Union County middle and high schools. Following completion of this grant I managed the health department’s new tobacco education and cessation program.

During my work as a program manager for the abstinence only grant, I became aware of the extent and consequences related to teen pregnancy. It was especially frustrating to observe adolescent mothers and repeat mothers attending the abstinence only curriculum. The program did not address the needs of these students. My dissertation research spun out of my experiences and interactions with adolescent mothers.

Since my work at the health department I started the PhD program in August, 2008. I recently completed my qualifying exams and I am scheduled to complete my proposal defense in July of this year.

Achievement Motivation Association with Teen Birth and Repeat Birth: a Qualitative Study.

repeat births mapIn 2002, there was an estimated 757,000 pregnancies among teenagers ages 15-19 in the United States: 425,000 resulted in live births; 215,000 in induced abortions; and 117,000 in fetal losses1, 2. In 2005, Florida had the 3rd highest rate of births to teens under the age of 15; there were just over 24,000 births to teens aged 15-19.

Giving birth as a teenager can result in a number of negative outcomes for the teen and the baby. Among the problems are:

• Adolescent mothers are more likely to drop out of high school and subsequently live in poverty.

• Approximately 52% of mothers on welfare had their first child as teenager.1

• Adolescent births cost almost 9.1 billion dollars annually to taxpayers at the federal, state, and local levels. These economic losses are attributed to increased public health care cost, child welfare cost, state prison cost and lost tax revenue1.

• Children of adolescent mothers are more likely to suffer from asthma, have lower grades, and are less likely to graduate from high school1.

• Daughters of teen mothers are more likely to get pregnant as teenagers and their sons are more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lives1.

• Repeat pregnancy during adolescence exacerbates the risk to mother and children.

Research Questions:

1. How do primiparous adolescent girls ages 14-19 describe the context surrounding initial birth?

2. How do multiparous adolescent girls ages 14-19 describe the context surrounding subsequent births?

2a. Does the contexts vary based on time interval between births among multiparous adolescent girls ages 14-19?

3. Do perceptions of what it means to have a successful life differ among adolescent girls ages 14-19 with one versus multiple births?

4. Do personal and professional goal aspirations differ between adolescent girls ages 14-19 with one versus multiple births?

Using an explorative qualitative research design, I will recruit 36 adolescents–from one of 6 categories depicted below — to participate in a one-time interview.

Pregnancy Status  14-16  17-19
 One Pregnancy  6  6
Multiple Pregnancies    6  6
 No Pregnancy Matched control group  6  6


The interview will address three primary subjects: 1) the context surrounding adolescent birth or repeat births; 2) individual meanings of success; and 3) personal and professional desires.

This research study will provide a deeper understanding of teenage childbearing and repeat childbearing. Furthermore, review of achievement motivation in parenting and non-parenting teens may assist in the improvement of repeat pregnancy interventions that use success and goal achievement to prevent repeat pregnancy.


  1. The national campaign to prevent teen pregnancy (n.d) Retrieved October 20, 2008 from http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/fact-sheets.aspx#tbr
  2. Recent Trends in Teenage Pregnancy in the United States 1990-2002. National Center for Health Statistics. (nd). Retrieved October 18, 2008, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/teenpreg1990-2002
  3. Florida CHARTS Community Health Assessment Research Tool Set 2009. http://www.flpublichealth.com/VSBOOK/VSBOOK.aspx