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Obstacles to intergenerational communication in caregivers' narratives regarding young people's sexual and reproductive health and lifestyle in rural South Africa

Nilsson, B.
Edin, K.
Kinsman. J.
Kahn, K.
Norris, S.A.
Background: Statistics from South Africa show the world's highest HIV prevalence with an estimated seven million people living with the virus. Several studies have pointed to communication about sexuality between parents/caregivers and children as a protective factor. However, communication between generations has been described as problematic, especially due to discomfort in discussing sexual matters. The aim of this study was to explore how caregivers in a poor, rural part of South Africa talked about young people in general, their sexuality, and their lifestyle practices. A particular interest was directed towards central discourses in the caregivers' narratives and how these discourses were of importance for the caregivers to function as conversation partners for young people. Methods: In this qualitative study convenience sampling was used to select and invite participants. Information was collected from nine one-on-one interviews conducted with caregivers from rural areas within South Africa. The interview guide included nine main questions and optional probing questions. Each interview took place in an uninterrupted setting of choice associated with the caregivers' home environment. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using discourse analysis. Results: Interview narratives were characterized by three central discourses - demoralized youths in a changing society, prevailing risks and modernity and a generation gap. The youths were discursively constructed as a problematic group relating to specific prevailing risks such as early pregnancies, modern technologies, STI/HIV and contraceptives. The interview narratives illustrated that caregivers tried to impose their views of a respectable lifestyle in young people. At the same time caregivers expressed a morality of despair mirroring a generation gap which counteracted their ability to communicate with their children and grandchildren. Conclusions: The findings add to the body of earlier research illustrating that rural South African caregivers and their children/grandchildren hold different moral standards. The interview material reflected a 'clash' between generations relating to their differing perceptions of a desirable lifestyle. To overcome the generational gap, we recommend further research about how a well-founded national and community collaboration linked to school-based programs can support family participation in order to empower adults in their communication with young people.
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BMC Public Health
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Sexual and reproductive health,Respectability,Discourse theory,Moral regime,Intergenerational communication,SDG-03 Good health and well-being
Nilsson B, Edin K, Kinsman J, Kahn K, Norris SA. Obstacles to intergenerational communication in caregivers' narratives regarding young people's sexual and reproductive health and lifestyle in rural South Africa. BMC Public Health. 2020 May 27;20(1):791. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-08780-9.
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