Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Sherry Gaines - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Wilson

Third Advisor

Dr. Wendy Simonds


Each year in the United States between 800,000 and 900,000 adolescents, aged 19 or younger, become pregnant. Over one-half of these pregnancies end in a live birth. Several studies have shown that the younger sisters of adolescent mothers have teenage childbearing rates two to six times higher than childbearing rates of women in the general population. The purpose of this focused ethnography was to gain a better understanding of the influences of a pregnant and parenting adolescent on her younger sister. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit younger sisters of parenting teens. Fifteen (15) African American females, ranging in age from 12 to 17 years old, participated in the study. The mean age of the participants was 14. The researcher identified and selected informants through community agencies in which the informants’ older sisters participated in services for teen mothers. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, field observation notes, a fieldwork journal, and a demographic information sheet. Interviews were conducted in the informant’s home. Data were analyzed using Spradley’s Development Research Sequence of a domain analysis, taxonomic analysis, componential analysis, and cultural themes (Spradley, 1979). Seven cultural themes emerged from the data: (a) Mixed Emotions, (b) Centering on Mother/Baby, (c) Childcare Engagement, (d) Sharing of Experience as Warnings, (e) Recognition of Hardship, (f) Change in Family Relationships, and (g) Intentions, Hopes, and Dreams. Findings from this study indicated that the younger sisters of parenting adolescents are greatly impacted by their older teen sister’s pregnancy and parenting. Knowledge from this study may be used to shape future interventions designed and tailored for younger sisters to discontinue the cycle of teenage childbearing in families. Nurses involved in providing care for pregnant and parenting teens need to identify younger sisters, be aware that they are at particular risk for early sexual activity and parenting, and encourage involvement of the entire family in prevention efforts.


Included in

Nursing Commons