Context: Traditional methods of identifying areas in need of adolescent pregnancy prevention programs may miss small localities with high levels of adolescent childbearing.
Methods: Birthrates for 15-17-year-olds were computed for all California zip codes, and the zip codes with birthrates in the 75th percentile were identified. Panels of local experts in adolescent pregnancy reviewed these Ñhot spotsæ for accuracy and grouped them into potential project areas, based on their demographics, geography and political infrastructure.
Results: In all, 415 zip codes exceeded the 75th-percentile cut-off point of 62.8 births per 1,000, and 210 of them differed significantly from the state average of 44.5 per 1,000 for 15-17-year-olds. While all had high adolescent birthrates, they varied greatly in racial and ethnic mix, poverty and educational attainment, and certain perinatal measures such as inadequate prenatal care and repeat pregnancy.
Conclusions: The use of zip code-level data holds promise for more effective program planning and intervention.
Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 30(4):173–176
Jeffrey B. Gould is professor of Maternal and Child Health in the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. At the time of the study, Beate Herrchen was assistant researcher, Tanya Pham was student research assistant and Stephan Bera was research assistant in the Maternal and Child Health Program. Claire Brindis is director of the Center for Reproductive Health Policy Research, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco. The project described in this article was initiated by the California State Office of Family Planning, made possible by a grant from the California Wellness Foundation and performed under subcontract to the Center for Health Training. The authors are indebted to Robert Natti for his many years of encouragement, to Richard Yoder for project management and project area review, to Bobbie Wunsch for facilitating regional meetings, and to Dixie Chan, Jane Boggess and Nancy Snyder for organizing regional meetings and identifying steering committee members. They are especially grateful to the project steering committee for their guidance and support.