The information behaviours of disadvantaged young first-time mothers

Buchanan, Steven and Jardine, Cara (2022) The information behaviours of disadvantaged young first-time mothers. Journal of Documentation. ISSN 0022-0418 (

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the information behaviours of socioeconomically disadvantaged young first-time mothers, an understudied and at-risk group (health and well-being). Design/methodology/approach: Questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with 39 young mothers (aged up to 25 years of age) from UK areas of multiple deprivations. Findings: Our participants' preferred sources of information are interpersonal sources with which they have formed close supportive relationships. Support groups are important sources of interpersonal connection, but young mothers are reluctant to attend groups involving older mothers. With the exception of support group staff and health visitors, institutional and professional information sources are used very little. Societal stigma is a significant issue influencing behaviours, but issues of institutional bureaucracy, information overload, conflicting information and practical access are also reported. A further key factor influencing behaviour is self-identity. Research limitations/implications: Findings should not be considered representative of young mothers as a whole as not all young mothers are disadvantaged. As our participants identified as ethnically white, findings also cannot speak to the additional barriers experienced by women of colour. Further studies with further population groups are recommended. More broadly, further studies exploring the influence of self-identity on people's information behaviours are also recommended. Practical implications: Findings provide practical direction for health and welfare services, and public libraries, to better support young mothers. Originality/value: Findings contribute to conceptual and practical understanding of information poverty in the socio-ecological context. Findings also evidence the role of self-identity in shaping people's information behaviours.


Buchanan, Steven ORCID logoORCID: and Jardine, Cara ORCID logoORCID:;