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The JL Group conducted eight focus groups between January and June of 2004 with African-American and Latino women ages 16-25 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Los Angeles, California, West Palm Beach, Florida, and New York, New York. The 16- and 17-year-old groups were conducted in New York City. The average number of women in each of the focus groups was 6 for a total of forty-six (46) participants. Two African-American groups were conducted in New Orleans and two Latina groups were conducted in Florida. PEP chose Los Angeles and New York as its combination markets and conducted one African-American group and one Latina group per city. The women were recruited by community-based organizations and other locally based partners. They include the Institute for Women and Ethnic Studies in New Orleans, Kellie Hawkins, MPH Epidemiology Analyst, Sexually Transmitted Disease Program Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Planned Parenthood of Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Area in Florida, and The Door youth center in New York City.


The focus group questions were designed by PEP staff and edited by research consultant Jewel Love of the JL Group. The focus groups were conducted in the evenings or on weekends in order to accommodate the collective schedules and lifestyles of each constituency. Participants received a stipend for their time and were provided lunch or dinner depending on the time of the focus group. Prior to starting each focus group, each participant was asked to complete a demographic profile form. This document collected information on age, race, college enrollment/type of college attended and monthly household income. Each participant also signed an informed consent contract detailing their rights as a participant, PEPís role, and use and dissemination of the information collected. Young women 18 and under were required to present a signed parental consent form at the start of each session.

Jewel Love of the JL Group and at least one member of PEPís Young Womenís Leadership Council (YWLC) moderated each focus group. PEP envisioned a collaborative research gathering and analysis process for members of its Young Womenís Leadership Council along with selected staff members. To meet this goal and implement PEPís vision of creating a young-women-led research project, the JL Group developed and conducted a moderatorís training to provide YWLC members and staff with information on various components involved in focus group research; core elements of moderating; personal characteristics of successful moderators; the role and responsibilities of the moderator; and tips and strategies for addressing problems that may arise.

Data Analysis

As part of its collaboration with PEP, the JL Group executed a second training session to equip the YWLC for the process of analyzing data from the focus groups. This two-hour training, conducted by Pamela Weddington of the JL Group, provided an overview about what researchers look for in the analysis process; identification of primary themes; and suggestions for how to work together as a team to develop and present the findings and recommendations.

Each focus group was videotaped. The tapes were reviewed by the JL Group, PEP staff, and the YWLC with the goal of identifying key issues and understandings of the various meanings implied in participant responses. As a result of the analysis, numerous insights were identified, which are outlined in this report.


This research was designed as a first step toward understanding the reproductive health and rights perspectives of young African-American and Latino women. Due to the small study sample, we recommend not generalizing these findings to encompass the views and opinions of all young African-American and Latino women or other demographic sub-populations among young women of color.

Focus Group Characteristics

Throughout this study, we met a great number of women from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and incomes  encompassing a wide range of beliefs, attitudes and opinions. Some of the women were young mothers, others were in vocational school, community college, or universities, and some were full-time employees. 

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