Sociocultural factors contributing to teenage pregnancy in Zomba district, Malawi

Nanzen Caroline Kaphagawani, Ezekiel Kalipeni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores sociocultural and other risk factors associated with unplanned teenage pregnancy in Zomba district of Malawi. Data were obtained from 505 participants under the age of 20 years using a questionnaire administered through face-to-face interviews held at five antenatal clinics. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics, frequency tables and chi-square analysis which allowed comparative understanding of the sociocultural risk factors for planned and unplanned teenage pregnancy in Zomba district. The findings revealed that teenage pregnancy is a major health and social problem. Over 76% of the teenage respondents in the study had experienced unplanned pregnancy. Among the prominent factors that stood out in the analysis for this high rate of teenage pregnancy were early sex and marriage, low contraceptive use, low educational levels, low socio-economic status, lack of knowledge of reproductive and sexual health, gender inequity, and physical/sexual violence. The consequences on teenage mothers of unplanned pregnancy have been tragic and have compromised their physical, psychological and socioeconomic wellbeing, not just on them but also their families and society at large. The findings point to the need for a multi-sectoral approach to tackle the problem on teenage pregnancy in this district, and likely throughout Malawi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-710
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 3 2017


  • Malawi
  • Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
  • Zomba
  • sociocultural factors
  • teenage pregnancy
  • teenager/adolescent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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