Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor

Kathleen Baggett, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Betsy Davis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dawn Aycock, Ph.D.


Literature Review and Statement of Purpose: Unintended pregnancy and non-optimal interpregnancy intervals can lead to a host of maternal and infant morbidities and mortality. The purpose of this study is to inform future intervention efforts aimed at increasing planned pregnancies and optimal interpregnancy intervals for a demographic of women at high risk for experiencing unplanned pregnancies and non-optimal interpregnancy intervals: Black and Latina women who have not graduated from high school.

Methods: Study assessments included repeated measures collected prenatally during the participant’s last trimester of pregnancy continuing thereafter at the target child’s age of 4, 10, and 24 months. A comprehensive 2-hour assessment of mother and child characteristics and functioning was conducted. As part of this assessment, a structured interview was used to collect demographic information at the prenatal and 24-month assessments, and family planning information was collected that pertained to pregnancy intentions, birth control practices, and interpregnancy intervals at the prenatal, 4-, 10-, and 24-month assessments.

Data Analysis and Results: There were no significant differences in interpregnancy interval by race. There were significantly greater odds of becoming pregnant before 24 months postpartum (i.e., a non-optimal birth interval outcome) for women who reported stable non-optimal birth control practices across time when compared to women who reported stable optimal birth control practices.

Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations: There is a need to focus on a more comprehensive view of pregnancy intention and birth control practice that does not rely solely on self-reported data and understand barriers that prevent the use of effective birth control methods for creation of tailored fitted interventions.


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Available for download on Thursday, April 25, 2024