Provision of Emergency Contraception at Student Health Centers in California Community Colleges



      Approximately half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, with the highest rates reported among college-age women. The availability of emergency contraception (EC) pills can be an important component of efforts to reduce unintended pregnancy. Student health centers at community colleges can uniquely support student retention and academic achievement among college students by making EC available to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and prevent college drop-out. This article highlights findings from an assessment of EC provision in student health centers within the California community college system (n = 73).


      A web-based survey was used to explore the provision of EC, challenges and barriers of EC administration, promotion of EC availability, and attitudes toward EC.


      Descriptive statistics conducted revealed that more than 6 out of 10 (62%) student health centers provided EC, 77% of which dispense EC on site during clinic visits. The most common EC promotion methods were providing brochures at the health center (80%) and through information provided at family planning or primary care visits (73%). Challenges to EC administration included a perceived lack of awareness of EC among students (71%), followed by the notion that some students may overutilize EC (40%). Attitudes toward EC provision were more favorable among health center staff whose campuses offered EC than those who did not (p < .05).


      This article provides recommendations for community college health centers to improve access and delivery of EC by addressing issues such as cost and offering more novel EC promotion methods.
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      Sang Leng Trieu, DrPH, MPH, CHES, is a researcher and health educator at Ohlone College Student Health Center, with research interests in sexual and reproductive health issues among emerging young adults. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Irvine.


      Divya P. Shenoy, BA, is a first-year medical student at the University of California, Irvine. She has worked on research studies relating to various reproductive justice issues, and plans to pursue a career in women’s health care and health policy.


      Sally Bratton, RN, FNP, PA-C, is a family nurse practitioner and director of the Student Health Center at Ohlone College. Her research interests include family planning, mental health, and primary health care delivery among community college students.


      Helen Hopp Marshak, PhD, MS, CHES, is Associate Professor & Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health. She is a social psychologist with research interests in tobacco control programs and psychosocial aspects of health behaviors.