Talking about sex is uncomfortable. Such a conversation about private matters can be tough whether the discussion is with preteens or doctors. It is even more difficult when conducted in two different languages. But Marjorie Sable, Professor and Director of the Department of Social Work, works to break down the communication barrier when it comes to family planning.
Marjorie Sable does research in South Africa to help reduce the spread of HIV. “Looking at women’s pregnancy intentions is a way to try to reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child,” she says. “Nowadays it is possible for a woman to have a healthy pregnancy if she is HIV-positive, but she really needs to plan it when her viral load is low and her cell count is high; and so it is something that she needs to make a conscious decision about.”
Sable uses a framework called the theory of planned behavior in designing her research. The basic idea behind this theory is that the greatest indicator of whether people will do something is in fact their intention.
To learn out about women’s pregnancy intentions in KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa, Sable organized focus groups. She asked these groups questions on topics that ranged from their attitudes about childrearing to their role in decision-making about having children.