The purpose of this study was explore college students' knowledge of and attitudes toward ECP.
This study was a cross-sectional examination of a convenience sample of 692 undergraduate college students at a mid-size university in northwest Pennsylvania. The majority of subjects were obtained through upper-level undergraduate general education courses during the Spring 2008 semester. Data were collected by use of a written survey instrument that included 15 questions examining attitudes about ECP and eight questions examining knowledge about ECP.
Results indicated that 83% of the subjects had experienced sexual intercourse, and 52% of the subjects had thought at least once that they (females) or their sex partner (males) might be pregnant. Only 17% of the subjects indicated that they (or their sex partner) had used ECP. Seventy-four percent of the subjects had heard of emergency contraception (EC); however, only 18% reported that they knew “quite a bit” or “a lot” about it. Forty-one percent of the subjects reported knowing “some” about EC, and 41% reported knowing “nothing” or “very little” about it. Only 16% of the subjects answered correctly that EC was available at their college health center; however, 40% percent reported that they knew where to obtain EC off-campus. When asked if they would be willing to use EC if it worked primarily by preventing ovulation or fertilization, 51% and 52% (respectively) reported that they would. When asked to rate EC on a scale of 1-10 (1=contraception; 10=abortion), 81% of the subjects rated EC between 1 and 5 (more contraception than abortion), while the remaining 19% rated EC between 6 and 10 (more abortion than contraception). Fifty percent of the subjects reported that they would feel comfortable using EC, and 58% reported that EC should be available without a prescription. Results indicated that, overall, the subjects' knowledge level of ECP was poor. While 70% of the subjects knew that ECP does not reduce the chance of contracting an STD, only between 21% and 34% of the subjects knew the prescription status of ECP, the common side effects of ECP, the primary ways ECP works, and that ECP is approved by the U.S. government.
The researcher concludes that there is a clear need for ECP as a pregnancy prevention method among college students. The majority of students in this study had heard of emergency contraception; however, prior use of ECP and overall knowledge levels were low.
See more of: Research Consortium