Assessing the mental health needs of pregnant adolescents: Health literacy frameworks to Guide Research and practice

Pamela Recto, Jane Dimmitt Champion, Michael Mackert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Psychological distress negatively impacts fetal development and may result in complications such as preterm delivery, low infant birth weight, and poor maternal-infant attachment during the postpartum period. Female adolescents may be experiencing environmental and psychosocial stressors during the pre- and postnatal periods that may predispose them to psychological distress. Health literacy has been used to assess the needs of individuals who have chronic illnesses. Mental health literacy however has not been assessed as extensively, particularly among pregnant adolescents. Purpose: Analysis of 2 health literacy frameworks for assessment of relevancy for use among adolescents experiencing psychological distress. Methods: Systematic analyses of health literacy frameworks by Anthony Jorm and that of Paasche-Orlow and Wolf are provided in this article. Results: Paasche-Orlow and Wolf's frameworks both provide useful approaches for assessing pregnant adolescent needs. A modified holistic health literacy conceptual model based on Paasche-Orlow and Wolf's and Jorm's framework is proposed. Implications for Practice: Assessing the mental health needs of pregnant adolescents requires a holistic approach. The modified conceptual model provides a basis for research and practice addressing health literacy and psychological distress among pregnant adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-155
Number of pages19
JournalResearch and Theory for Nursing Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Female adolescents
  • Health literacy
  • Mental health
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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