Contraceptive Knowledge, Norms and Attitudes: Do They Predict Contraceptive Risk-Taking among Young Adults?

Jennifer J. Frost, Guttmacher Institute

Young women in their twenties have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than any other age group, suggesting that new strategies are needed to understand and assist young people during the transition to adulthood. Using data from a nationally representative telephone survey of 18–29-year-old unmarried women and men living in U.S. households, we use multivariate models to examine the relative importance of knowledge, beliefs, norms and motivations regarding contraceptive practice and pregnancy planning on risky contraceptive behaviors. Results indicate that young adults with poor knowledge about contraceptive methods and pregnancy are significantly more likely to engage in risky contraceptive behavior, after controlling for key background characteristics. Fear of side effects, norms about nonmarital childbearing and contraceptive use, motivations toward avoiding pregnancy, and mistrust of medical institutions were all also important in one or more models. Relevance of these findings for informing policy and programs will be discussed.

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Presented in Poster Session 4