Teenage mothers' experiences of stigma and formal support services

  • E.B. Yardley

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research has two focal points: experiences of stigma and experiences of formal support services among teenage mothers. Twenty teenage mothers were interviewed in depth, ten from a one-to-one support service, and ten from a group based support service. Contributions to knowledge consisted of the following. First, regarding experiences of stigma, this research integrated concepts from the social psychology literature and established the effects of stigma which are experienced by teenage mothers, offering reasons for the same. Additionally, further coping mechanisms in response to being stigmatized were discovered and grouped into two new headings: active and passive coping mechanisms. It is acknowledged that for a minority of participants, stigma does have negative effects, however, the majority experiences no such serious negative effects. Secondly, regarding experiences of support services, this research was able to directly compare one-to-one with group based support for teenage mothers. Knowledge was unearthed as to influential factors in the selection of a mode of support and the functions of each of the modes of support, which were categorised under headings for ease of comparison. It was established that there is indeed a link between these two research foci in that both the one-to-one and group based support services fulfil a stigma management function, in which teenage mothers discuss the phenomenon, share experiences and offer advice to others. However, it was also established that this function is of minor importance compared to the other functions fulfilled by the support services.
Date of Award2007
Original languageEnglish


  • Teenage mothers
  • experiences of stigma
  • formal support services

Cite this