The Roles of Social Support on Adolescent and Maternal Health Behaviors in Sub-Saharan Africa
Agudile, Emeka Pascal
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AbstractMy dissertation research investigates the roles of social support on adolescent and maternal health behaviors in Sub-Saharan Africa. This research aims to address knowledge gaps that exist in research on the impact of social support on health behaviors amongst women and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a dearth of research on how social support may influence adolescent risky health behaviors such as substance use and risky sexual behaviors, or maternal breastfeeding practices such as early breastfeeding initiation or pre-lacteal feeding in sub-Saharan African.
This dissertation is made up of three papers. Papers 1 and 2 investigate the impact of parental social support on adolescent substance use initiation and risky sexual behavior respectively, in South Africa. Data from Wave 1 and 3 of the Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS) were used in both papers to conduct regression analyses to assess whether lack of parental social support is associated with higher risk of substance use initiation (paper 1) and risky sexual behaviors (paper 2) by adolescents in South Africa. The results of the analyses indicate that lack of frequent family meals with mothers is a significant longitudinal predictor of alcohol consumption initiation. Also, there were increased risks of multiple sexual partnerships among adolescents who never ate meals with their mothers, and among those who never discussed personal matters with their fathers. Also, adolescents who never got money for gifts or pocket money from their mothers were more likely to engage in unprotected sex during their first sexual encounter compared to those who got money from their mothers. Paper 3 investigates the cross-sectional association between social support and breastfeeding practices amongst women Nigeria. Social support from mothers and fathers were associated with higher prevalence of early breastfeeding initiation and avoidance of pre-lacteal feeding respectively. Also, high levels of physical support were associated with higher likelihood of avoiding pre-lacteal feeding.
In conclusion, the associations between social support and adolescent risky behavior in South Africa or maternal breastfeeding behavior in Nigeria are complex. Other predictors outside the family or peer influences may be stronger drivers of adolescent and maternal health behaviors in here.
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