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Exploring Young Adults' Contraceptive Knowledge and Attitudes: Disparities by Race/Ethnicity and Age

  • Amaranta D. Craig
    Correspondence
    Correspondence to: Amaranta D. Craig, BS, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 1001 Potrero Ave, Ward 22, San Francisco, CA 94143.
    Affiliations
    Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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  • Christine Dehlendorf
    Affiliations
    Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California

    Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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  • Sonya Borrero
    Affiliations
    Center for Research on Health Care, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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  • Cynthia C. Harper
    Affiliations
    Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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  • Corinne H. Rocca
    Affiliations
    Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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Published:April 11, 2014DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2014.02.003

      Abstract

      Background

      Half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, with the highest proportions occurring among Blacks, Hispanics, and teenagers. Understanding differences in knowledge and attitudes about contraception by race/ethnicity and age can improve efforts to reduce disparities in unintended pregnancy.

      Methods

      This analysis used data from the 897 female respondents in National Survey of Reproductive and Contraceptive Knowledge, a survey exploring young adults' knowledge and attitudes about contraception and pregnancy. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess racial/ethnic and age group differences in knowledge and attitudes about contraceptives.

      Findings

      Hispanics and teenagers (aged 18–19) had lower awareness of available contraceptive methods, and lower knowledge about individual methods compared with White women and young adults (age 20–29). For example, Hispanics (74%) and teenagers (77%) were less likely to have heard of the intrauterine device (IUD) than were White women (90%) and young adults (90%), and were less likely to know that a woman experiencing side effects could switch brands of oral contraceptive pills (72% of Hispanics vs. 86% of White women; 76% of teenagers vs. 90% of young adults). Hispanics born outside the United States had lower knowledge about contraceptives than U.S.-born Hispanics. For example, foreign-born Hispanics were less likely than U.S.-born Hispanics to have heard of the IUD (59% vs. 82%) or the vaginal ring (55% vs. 95%).

      Conclusions

      Lower contraceptive knowledge among teenagers and Hispanics, particularly immigrants, suggests the importance of disseminating family planning information to these women as one means to address disparities in unintended pregnancy.
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      Biography

      Amaranta D. Craig, BS, is a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco, in the UCSF Clinical and Translational Research Fellowship and PROF-PATH (Promoting Research Opportunities Fully- Prospective Academics Transforming Health) Fellowship. Her research interests include women's health and health disparities.

      Biography

      Christine Dehlendorf, MD, MAS, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research interests include family planning disparities and contraception counseling.

      Biography

      Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include disparities in contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy and contraceptive care in the VA Healthcare System.

      Biography

      Cynthia C. Harper, PhD, is Associate Professor at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco. Her research interests include social and policy aspects of family planning.

      Biography

      Corinne H. Rocca, PhD, MPH, is an Epidemiologist at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco. Her research interests include unintended pregnancy prevention, pregnancy ambivalence, and reproductive health disparities.