Developing and piloting a peer mentoring intervention to reduce teenage pregnancy in looked after children and care leavers

Lead investigator
Professor Rona Campbell, University of Bristol
  • Reducing rates of teenage pregnancy in England has been a government priority for a number of years. The development of new sex and relationship education programmes has had some success in bringing down those rates. However, rates of pregnancy remain high in girls and young women in care, who have difficulty in accessing appropriate education and advice.
  • Little research has been done to show what types of intervention would be accessible to teenagers in care, and would be effective in bringing down pregnancy rates. There is some evidence that mentoring helps to increase the confidence and self-esteem of young people in care, as well as their engagement in education, training and work.
  • Young people in care say that they want support from people who know and have experienced the care system themselves. This approach is often referred to as ‘peer mentoring’, mentoring offered by someone of a similar age and with similar life experiences who will listen and give advice, support and guidance.
Aims & objectives
To develop and pilot a peer mentoring intervention to reduce pregnancy rates in girls and young women in care. To establish the best way of measuring pregnancy rate in this group of young women and the best approach to randomly selecting participants to either receiving the intervention or not.
Study design

Feasibility study of a peer mentoring intervention for looked after children to reduce teenage pregnancy, which will incorporate phases I and II of the MRCs original framework for the development and evaluation of complex interventions to improve health.

Phase I

Six mentor-mentee pairs. The intervention will be piloted for three months and then refined according to feedback from mentors and mentees.

Phase II

Forty-eight looked after children aged between 14 and 18 will be recruited as mentees from the three local authorities involved in the scheme (Southend, Lambeth and Ealing). They will be randomised to 24 peer mentors, young women aged between 18 and 24 who have had experience of the care system. Half the mentees will receive peer mentoring, the other half will receive care as usual. The intervention will be for one year. Mentors will be provided with smart phones to enable them to record frequency and nature of their contacts with mentees, in diary form.

This research project will begin by looking for examples of peer mentoring initiatives nationally, both those for looked after girls and young women, and those designed to reduce teenage pregnancy.

  • The primary outcome measure will be differences in pregnancy between the intervention and care as usual group. Data collected on other outcomes, for example psychological health, self-esteem, contraceptive use, will be used to investigate other factors that might affect or reflect the effectiveness of the intervention.
  • Qualitative interviews with both mentors and mentees about their experiences of mentoring will also help us to find out what parts of the intervention work well, to improve the intervention and to develop the future full trial.
  • The cost of providing the intervention will be calculated.
Further information & publications
Start date
March 2011
End date
April 2014