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Keywords:

  • pregnancy;
  • adolescent;
  • coping

This descriptive study examined the coping styles and specific strategies used by a group of pregnant adolescents attending an adolescent family support service. Seventy-one adolescents, with a mean age of 17 years, and a mean gestation of 25 weeks, completed the Revised Jalowiec Coping Scale (JCS-R). The findings demonstrated that the optimistic coping style (emotion-focused) was the most frequently used and most effective coping style for these young women. A confrontive coping style (problem-focused) was also used and found to be effective. A combination of problem-focused and emotion-focused styles is recommended, with an increased emphasis on problem-focused approaches. The focus by the adolescents on optimistic approaches is suggestive of a lack of understanding of the challenges that motherhood will place upon them, but is consistent with their age and developmental stage. A longitudinal study of coping styles and changes in style throughout pregnancy and early motherhood is recommended. Initial assessment and monitoring of coping styles of pregnant adolescents is proposed. This assessment would be the beginning point for a teaching program that highlights increased use of adaptive coping styles (problem-focused) with decreased use of maladaptive approaches, and includes emotion-focused styles. By expanding the repertoire of coping styles and strategies available to the adolescent, the public health nurse (PHN) prepares these vulnerable mothers for the challenges ahead.