PhD Study Leads to Community of Practice Initiative
Dr Desiree Govender’s PhD study resulted in the development of a community of practice initiative for teenage mothers.
Supervised by Professors Saloshni Naidoo and Myra Taylor the study titled: A Community of Practice Model for a Multidisciplinary and Comprehensive Approach towards Caring for the Pregnant Adolescent and Parenting Adolescent Mother, earned Govender a doctorate in Public Health Medicine.
‘The importance of the study lies in its evidence-based approach and the manner in which it promotes collaboration among healthcare providers and encourages them to make changes in their clinical practices in the best interests of pregnant and parenting adolescents,’ said Govender.
According to Govender, adolescent pregnancy is a global public health issue that is associated with various adverse maternal and child health outcomes.
She believes pregnant adolescents have unmet antenatal, emotional, psychological and social needs.
‘Adolescent mothers are highly likely to experience social isolation, mental health problems, low educational attainment and limited employment opportunities. The high risks associated with adolescent pregnancy and the multiple needs of pregnant and parenting adolescents warrant a multidisciplinary approach towards their care.’
The study aimed to develop and implement a multidisciplinary community of practice model at a health facility to address the problems and needs of pregnant adolescents and parenting adolescent mothers. It was conducted over four years at a district hospital in Ugu, KwaZulu-Natal. The participants included pregnant adolescents, adolescent mothers, healthcare providers, community youth leaders and representatives from non-governmental, non-profit and faith-based organisations.
The findings revealed a high prevalence of adolescent repeat pregnancy, high risk sexual behaviours, and various psychosocial problems among the participants. Moreover, it was found that healthcare services were not channelled towards pregnant and parenting adolescents.
‘The Community of Practice initiative launched capacity building activities, facilitated tailor-made healthcare services for pregnant and parenting adolescents, and encouraged social learning and sharing of best practices that positively influenced the knowledge and perceptions of all the role-players,’ said Govender.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini