Knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to sexuality and family planning in adolescent women with and without diabetes

Denise Charron-Prochownik, Susan M. Sereika, Donna Falsetti, Shiaw Ling Wang, Dorothy Becker, Scott Jacober, Joan Mansfield, Neil H. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Sexually active adolescents with diabetes are at high risk for unplanned pregnancies and reproductive complications. Objective: Knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors regarding diabetes and reproductive issues, sexuality, and contraception were examined in teens with diabetes in relation to a non-diabetic group. Methods: A multisite, case-control, theory-based structured telephone interview was conducted on adolescent women: 80 with diabetes mellitus (DM) and 37 matched controls without diabetes (non-DM). Results: Teens with diabetes appeared to lack an understanding of critical information that could prevent unplanned pregnancies and pregnancy-related complications. Although they scored significantly higher than the non-DM group on diabetes-related information, the DM group had their lowest mean average of 59% for the diabetes and pregnancy score. They did not appear to have greater protective attitudes regarding reproductive health issues than the non-DM group. The DM group felt that they were only moderately susceptible to becoming pregnant and that severe complications would not happen to them. The DM group perceived greater severity to sex-related outcomes (p = 0.001). The DM group did not report safer and more effective family planning behaviors (mean age coitus = 15.7 yr), which for them could be more detrimental. Similar trends were noted between groups regarding contraceptive methods; only a single method (e.g., pill only) rather than a dual method (e.g., pill and condom) was most frequently used. Conclusion: Having diabetes did not appear to significantly decrease the risk-taking behavior of the teens. Early and some unsafe sexual practices may increase their risk for an unplanned pregnancy that could result in pregnancy-related complications. Enhancing awareness, knowledge, and attitudes through preconception counseling and reproductive health education may reduce these risks by empowering young women to plan healthy future pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-273
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Diabetes
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Adolescent
  • Birth control
  • Diabetes
  • Reproductive health
  • Sexual activity


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