Emergency contraceptive pills and college women : factors influencing intention and use Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ws859j07s

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  • Approximately half of the 6.4 million pregnancies occurring each year in the United States are unintended (Finer & Henshaw, 2006). Unintended pregnancies, defined as pregnancies not wanted at the time conception occurs, regardless of contraceptive use (Chandra, Martinez, Mosher, Abma, & Jones, 2005) can have serious repercussions on women, children, and society. For decades, women facing the possibility of an unintended pregnancy following unprotected intercourse, birth control method failure, or sexual assault, have had no choices outside of abortion. Since 1997 however, another option has become available to American women making unintended pregnancy decisions – emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs). Research has indicated that widespread use of ECPs has the potential to prevent 1.5 million of the approximate 3 million unintended pregnancies occurring each year in the US, including as many as 700,000 pregnancies that now result in abortion (Trussell, Stewart, Guest, & Hatcher, 1992). Although 84% of American women have heard of ECPs, only 6% claim to have ever used them (Hoff, Miller, Barefoot, & Greene, 2003). Despite their effectiveness and the public’s awareness of them, ECPs still remain underutilized in many high-risk populations. Explanations for this discrepancy are not readily available. In particular, young adult women attending college are at risk for unintended pregnancy yet we know little about their relationship with ECPs. Although extensive ECP use could have a profound effect on unintended pregnancy rates, we have limited information about the factors that influence a woman's decision to use ECPs. Furthermore, with the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of behind the counter status for the emergency contraceptive Plan B on August 24, 2006, one of the last major external hurdles for women accessing emergency contraceptive pills appears to have been removed. However, it is unknown whether prescription-free availability will be the final factor in women's predisposition to use ECPs or if other intrinsic factors, may in fact, override use. The purpose of this study was to determine the nature and extent of college women's knowledge, self-efficacy, attitudes, perceived social norms, and use related to emergency contraceptive pills. Additional goals included: using a conceptual framework to determine which social and behavioral constructs suggested by the contraceptive literature best predict intention to use ECPs and ECP use. Data were collected via an online survey designed by the lead author. A sample of 4,219 female students was drawn from a directory list of students enrolled at Oregon State University during the Spring Quarter of 2004. A total of 1718 women returned usable questionnaires. Key findings were that the majority of sexually active participants (68%, n = 871) had experienced a pregnancy scare in the past yet only 28.3% (n = 362) had ever used ECPs. Further, women had insufficient knowledge about ECPs in order to make informed decisions. Male partners were the most influential social reference in ECP decision-making. Although prescription-free access to ECPs is an historical milestone for reproductive health in the US, this policy change may not be the final step in ensuring that women access and use ECPs when they need them. Intrinsic factors including: knowledge that ECPs prevent pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, knowledge that ECPs are not a form of abortion, and confidence in accessing ECPs in time if needed seem to influence ECP use. In order for ECPs to impact unintended pregnancy rates to the extent research has demonstrated, strategies addressing these internal factors are warranted and must target both women and men.
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  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2009-07-07T17:10:58Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 HN dissertation.pdf: 569797 bytes, checksum: 6637eaffb3fbd255ba29171e73811f43 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Laura Wilson(laura.wilson@oregonstate.edu) on 2009-07-07T17:10:58Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 HN dissertation.pdf: 569797 bytes, checksum: 6637eaffb3fbd255ba29171e73811f43 (MD5)
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