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Factors Affecting Contraceptive Use in Women Seeking Pregnancy Tests: Missouri, 1997

Marjorie R. Sable, M. Kay Libbus and Jing-Er Chiu
Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 32, No. 3 (May - Jun., 2000), pp. 124-131
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/2648161
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2648161
Page Count: 8
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Factors Affecting Contraceptive Use in Women Seeking Pregnancy Tests: Missouri, 1997
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Abstract

Context: If the national health objective of reducing unintended pregnancy is to be met, a better understanding is needed of barriers to women's acquisition and use of contraceptives. Methods: A sample of 311 Missouri women who were seeking pregnancy tests in public health department clinics in 1997 and who said their potential pregnancy was unintended were asked about potential barriers to family planning. Factors affecting contraceptive use among these women were examined by frequency of use, insurance status, education and race. Results: In general, the women mostly disagreed that particular factors were potential barriers to contraceptive use. For only one item-worry over the potential side effects of the hormonal injectable contraceptive-did a majority agree or strongly agree that it was a barrier to method use in the previous six months. Women who used a contraceptive infrequently were more likely than frequent users to identify 33 factors in nine areas as being potential barriers to contraceptive use. These ranged from factors involving access to services and condom-specific issues to cost-related concerns, social norms, pregnancy denial, embarrassment over discussing or obtaining birth control, worry about side effects and experience with forced sex, among others. Perceived barriers differed somewhat by insurance status in the areas of access, embarrassment, side effects and forced sex. For example, women with no insurance coverage reported a higher level of agreement that transportation problems had hindered their access to a clinic than did women with private insurance. Level of education affected agreement only in the area of side effects, with more-educated women expressing greater concern about side effects than less-educated women. The respondent's race affected agreement in six areas: access, social norms, pregnancy denial, embarrassment, forced sex and other miscellaneous concerns, such as condom use and relationship issues. Conclusion: Better education and improved access to and delivery of services might address several factors affecting contraceptive use that are associated with unintended pregnancy. Some barriers, however, such as those related to self-efficacy, self-esteem and fatalistic attitudes about pregnancy, would be much harder for family planning providers to resolve.

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