Adolescent females often have questions or concerns about their contraceptive methods, and they may discontinue use if these questions are not answered. Little evidence exists on whether follow-up phone calls to address young women’s concerns can help sustain contraceptive use.
Between 2005 and 2007, a total of 805 females aged 14–18 attending a reproductive health clinic in San Francisco were randomly assigned to receive either regular clinic services or regular clinic services plus nine follow-up phone calls over 12 months. The young women were surveyed at baseline and roughly six, 12 and 18 months later to measure condom and contraceptive use, rates of pregnancy and STDs, and other outcomes and mediators. Multiple linear and logistic regression repeated measures analyses were used to assess the program’s effects.
Clinic counselors completed only 2.7 calls per patient, and made 7.8 attempts for every completed call. Although contraceptive use increased from baseline to follow-up at six months in both groups, levels of condom and contraceptive use, and rates of pregnancy and STDs, did not differ between the intervention and control groups at any of the follow-up assessments. Moreover, the intervention did not improve clinic utilization or satisfaction or have consistent positive effects on participants’ attitudes.
Reaching young women by phone after a clinic visit for contraception is challenging and does not appear to provide significant benefits beyond those provided by basic clinic services. More intensive interventions may be needed to markedly change adolescent sexual and contraceptive behavior.
Douglas Kirby is senior research scientist, Greg Thrush is research assistant, and Cora Yuen and Susan C. Potter are research associates—all at ETR Associates, Scotts Valley, CA. Tina Raine is professor, and Abby Sokoloff is research analyst, both at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco.