Early Sexual Initiation as a Predictor of Adolescent Pregnancy: Practice Recommendations for Nurse Practitioners
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Purpose: Nurse practitioners will be able to provide better screening, education, and counseling to adolescents regarding pregnancy prevention if they understand early sexual initiation as a predictor of adolescent pregnancy. This paper focuses on one predictor of adolescent pregnancy found in a review of the literature, early sexual initiation, and uses the Health Belief Model as a theoretical framework to help understand the correlation between early sexual initiation and adolescent pregnancy. With this insight, practice recommendations for nurse practitioners are discussed. Data Sources: The CINAHL, PubMed, PsycInfo, and ERIC databases were used to search literature published in 1997-2007. Governmental and professional websites, as well as texts were used for supporting information to help explain theories and concepts. Conclusions: Despite efforts over the years to prevent adolescent pregnancy it is still a national public health concern. U.S. pregnancy and birth rates have decreased since the 1990s, but we still have the highest rates among the industrialized world. Adolescent pregnancy remains of concern due to the adversities suffered by some adolescents and their children, and its effects on society as a whole. There have been numerous predictors of adolescent pregnancy identified in the literature, including early sexual initiation. Early sexual initiation is becoming more and more prevalent and deserves more attention as we work towards pregnancy prevention in adolescents. The relationship between early sexual initiation and adolescent pregnancy can be explained through the Health Belief Model, understanding that health-related behaviors such as early sexual initiation can lead to health threats such as adolescent pregnancy. Understanding early sexual initiation as a predictor of adolescent pregnancy and utilizing the practice recommendations in this paper, nurse practitioners can help provide better screening, education, and counseling regarding adolescent pregnancy prevention. Implications for Practice: Nurse practitioners will better understand early sexual initiation as a predictor of adolescent pregnancy and utilize the practice recommendations within this paper to routinely screen, educate, and counsel all adolescents of reproductive age to include early adolescence aiding in the pregnancy prevention efforts.