Emergency contraception: Knowledge and perceptions in a university population

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Purpose:The purpose of this study was to examine knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding emergency contraception (EC) in university men and women aged 18–21.Data sources:Data sources included responses to a 25-item questionnaire and an 8-item demographic survey completed anonymously at a public site on campus. Ninety-seven university students participated in the study. Participants were asked to respond to questions relating to knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding EC, perceived worthiness, objections, sources of information about EC, preferred birth-control method and usage, and perceptions of their personal risk of unintended pregnancy.Conclusions:Many respondents considered unintended pregnancy to be a major problem and considered EC a worthy option in the event of method failure or unprotected intercourse. While most participants were aware that there was a postcoital method of contraception, confusion existed between EC and RU-486 (the abortion pill). Almost half (49.5%) believed that EC was the same as RU-486. There was an association between advanced prescription for EC and its likelihood of use. Most women would be significantly more likely to use EC if they had a prescription on hand. Of the women who were less likely to choose EC, 100% indicated they would feel embarrassed or judged when asking for it. Only 34% of those women who have had a gynecological exam in the past 12 months had discussed EC with their provider.Implications for practice:Advanced practice nurses need to incorporate EC into preventive health counseling for both men and women. Providing women with an advanced prescription increases the likelihood that women will use EC.

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