Emergency contraception (EC) can prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Although EC has become increasingly available, little is known about perceptions of young adults regarding access to EC access or whether information sources about EC relate to perceived access among young adults.
Over a one-week period in November 2013, a self-report survey was administered to 352 college students (67% women) at the student union of a large, public university in the southeastern United States.
The survey assessed three aspects of EC: perceived access, information sources, and prior use. Twenty-one percent of participants had used EC. Participants reported relatively high perceptions of access to EC, with females reporting higher perceptions of access than males. Prior to the study, 7.4% of students had never heard of EC; the remaining students had heard of EC from an average of four sources. Among women, hearing of EC from media, interpersonal, or health education sources was significantly associated with greater perceived access (ps < 0.05). Among men, no specific information sources were associated with perceived access (ps > 0.10).
Future EC awareness efforts for women should leverage all three of these sources, while future research should examine specific sources to focus on the content, quality, and frequency of messages.
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- 1 School of Journalism and Mass Communication , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Carroll Hall, Campus Box 3365, Chapel Hill , NC 27599 , USA .
- 2 Department of Psychology , North Carolina State University , 640 Poe Hall, Campus Box 7650, Raleigh , NC 27695 , USA .
- 3 School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Carroll Hall, Campus Box 3365, Chapel Hill , NC 27599 , USA .
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