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Health-seeking behaviours of pregnant adolescents: a scoping review

02 July 2023
Volume 31 · Issue 7



Adolescent pregnancy has become a global concern because of its potential impact on health and childbirth, as well as its socioeconomic and psychological consequences. The aim of this study was to investigate pregnant adolescents' experiences seeking healthcare, to identify factors influencing their use of maternal healthcare services.


A scoping review for articles published in the last 10 years from six databases was conducted. A total of 25 studies that described pregnant adolescents' health-seeking behaviour during pregnancy and childbirth were included.


The majority of studies were conducted in Africa and most aimed to assess factors influencing health-seeking behaviours and use of antenatal care among pregnant adolescents. Ten studies used behavioural change theories and models. Several enabling factors and barriers influencing behaviour were identified.


Adolescents, families, communities and healthcare providers should work together to promote health-seeking behaviours among pregnant adolescents. Midwives should encourage pregnant adolescents to visit healthcare centres and provide positive antenatal care experiences.

Adolescents (aged 10–19 years old) are an important group with vital roles in developing countries in the future (World Health Organization (WHO), 2014). However, over 1.5 million adolescents and young adults (aged 10–24 years) died in 2019, amounting to almost 5000 per day; globally, 43 births per 1000 are from those aged 15–19 years every year (WHO, 2021). In developing countries, approximately 12 million girls between 15 and 19 years old, and at least 777 000 girls under the age of 15 years, give birth annually (WHO, 2014).

Adolescent pregnancy can have a major impact on an adolescent's life. A study in Brazil found a strong cause–effect relationship between adolescent pregnancy and school dropout, bolstered by economic vulnerability (Cruz et al, 2021). An adolescent becoming pregnant may also influence younger siblings to become pregnant at a similar age (Wall-Wieler et al, 2016). Adolescent pregnancy can be linked to depression, history of abortion and relationship factors, such as partner support (Maravilla et al, 2017). Maternal mortality is reportedly highest in adolescent girls under 15 years, and pregnancy and childbirth complications more common in girls aged 10–19 years compared to women aged 20–24 years (Djuwitaningsih and Setyowati, 2017).

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