Volume 29, Issue 1

Emergency Contraception: A National Survey of Adolescent Health Experts

In a survey of 167 physicians with expertise in adolescent health, 84% said they prescribe contraception to adolescents, but only 80% of these prescribe emergency contraception, generally a few times a year at most. Some 12% of respondents said they be lieve that providing emergency contraception to adolescents would encourage contraceptive risk-taking, 25% said they think it would discourage correct use of other methods and 29% said they think repeated use of the method could pose health risks. Physici ans who were more likely than their colleagues to prescribe emergency contraception included obstetrician-gynecologists (92%), those who graduated from medical school after 1970 (77%) and those who describe their practice as being in an "academic" setting (76%). Physicians may restrict use of the method by limiting treatment to adolescents who seek it within 48 hours after unprotected intercourse (29%), by requiring a pregnancy test (64%) or an office visit (68%), or by using the timing of menses as a cri terion for providing the method (46%). While 41% of physicians who provide emergency contraception counsel adolescents about the method during family planning visits, only 28% do so during visits for routine health care; 16% counsel women who are not yet sexually active about the method.

(Family Planning Perspectives, 29:15-19 & 24, 1997)

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Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health

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