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Hospital-Based Perinatal Nurses Identify the Need to Improve Nursing Care of Adolescent Mothers


  • Wendy E. Peterson,

    Corresponding author
    • Correspondence

      Wendy E. Peterson RN, PhD, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, RGN 3249 A, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1 H 8M5

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  • Barbara Davies,

  • Judy Rashotte,

  • Anne Salvador,

  • Marie-Josée Trépanier

  • The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.



To determine whether hospital-based perinatal nurses with expertise in adolescent mother-friendly care identify a need to improve inpatient nursing care of adolescent mothers and how well perinatal units support nurses’ capacity to provide adolescent mother-friendly care. Design/Setting/Participants: A key informant survey of nurses from eight perinatal units at three hospitals (four separate sites) in a Canadian city.


Perinatal nurses expert in the care of adolescent mothers were identified by their managers and colleagues. These nurses and all perinatal clinical educators were invited to participate. Twenty-seven of 34 potential key informants completed the survey.


Key informants rated their own skill in caring for adolescent mothers higher (median 8.0) than they rated the skill of other nurses (median 6.0) on their units. They attributed their expertise working with adolescent mothers to their clinical and life experiences and their ability to develop rapport with adolescents. A common reason for the assigned lower peer-group ratings was the judgmental manner in which some nurses care for adolescent mothers. Key informants also identified that hospital-based perinatal nurses lack adequate knowledge of community-based resources for adolescent mothers, educational programs related to adolescent mother-friendly care were insufficient, and policies to inform the nursing care of adolescent mothers were not available or known to them.


A minority of perinatal nurses have expertise in adolescent mother-friendly care. There is a need for perinatal unit-level interventions to support the development of nurses’ skills in caring for adolescent mothers and their knowledge of community-based resources. Peer mentoring and self-reflective practice are promising strategies.