Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Fehring, Richard J.
Young women between the ages of 18 to 24 experience disproportionally high rates of negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Inadequate and inaccurate fertility knowledge can hinder a young woman’s self-care abilities in managing her sexual and reproductive health. There is no validated instrument to assess young women’s fertility knowledge. The primary purpose of this study is to develop and evaluate the psychometric properties of the MU-fertility knowledge assessment scale (MU-FKAS) for young women. The secondary purpose is to explore the relationships among young women’s individual and contextual factors, self-perceived fertility knowledge, actual fertility knowledge, and fertility health risks. A three-phase, multiple method design was used for the study. The MU-FKAS contains 26 items measuring knowledge of female fertility changes within the menstrual cycle and throughout the lifecycle, and the impact of lifestyle factors and female age on female fertility and conception. The Kuder- Richardson 20 (KR20) coefficient was .74 indicating acceptable internal consistency. Known group comparison between young women who used fertility awareness based method (FABM) vs. non-FABM users showed a significant difference in their fertility knowledge level supporting its construct validity. Exploratory factor analysis supported a two-factor structure. Item analysis provided evidence for refinement of individual items. The sample consisted of 342 young women between the ages of 18 to 24 (M= 21.87; SD =1.88). They were primarily White and heterosexual. Young women’s actual fertility knowledge ranged from 27 to 100 (M=78.04, SD= 14.36). Their self-reported fertility risk factors spanned from 0 to 12. A significant regression equation was found (F (8,331) =6.053, p < .0001) with an R2 of .13. Using a FABM, self-perceived fertility knowledge, and actual fertility knowledge were statistically significant in predicting young women’s fertility health risks. Young women’s age, education level, or pregnancy experience were not significant in predicting their fertility health risks. The MU-FKAS demonstrated acceptable validity and reliability as a newly developed instrument. The significant relationships between young women’s fertility knowledge and their fertility health risks highlighted the importance of assessing and teaching young women about their fertility as an important component of their preconception care.
Available for download on Friday, October 25, 2019