Abstract: Unintended pregnancy is a social issue that severely jeopardizes the quality of life for parents and their children. College age women between the ages of 20-24 have one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies due to lack of contraceptive use and unsafe sexual practices. Since 80% of college females are sexually active and not seeking to become pregnant, it is important to provide these women with effective contraceptive options. Among this population, Black and Hispanic woman have a disproportionate rate of unintended pregnancies.
The purpose of this study was to examine contraceptive attitudes and demographic characteristics among female college students. Participants were grouped into those who use contraceptives consistently, intermittently, or not at all. The sample consisted of 120 racially diverse female college students who were sexually active within the past 3 months. Participants completed the Contraceptive Attitude Scale, contraceptive use tool, and demographic tool.
The results showed that there was no significant difference in demographic characteristics and contraceptive attitudes for race, age, marital status, years of college education and income between the contraceptive groups. A majority of participants had a positive attitude regarding contraceptives. Women with higher contraceptive attitude scores were significantly more likely to be consistent contraceptive users. Uninterrupted contraceptive users had significantly higher mean contraceptive attitude scores than intermittent users and nonusers. The results of this study may enable healthcare providers to develop more effective methods of increasing contraceptive use and simultaneously decrease unintended pregnancy rates. Nurses play an integral role by providing women with contraceptive counseling that will assist these women in making an informed decision about contraception use.
Key Words: Contraceptive Use, Female College Students
The United States has one of the highest unintended pregnancy rates in the world despite the availability of many forms of contraception (Mosher, Martinez, Chandra, Abama, & Wilson, 2004; Singh, Darroch, Vlassoff, & Nadeau, 2004). Unintended pregnancy is a persistent social problem that adversely affects families, children, and society. It is speculated that close to 60% of all pregnancies are unintended (Bensyl, Iuliano, Carter, Santelli, & Gilbert, 2005). Leading causes of unintended pregnancies are lack of contraceptive use and contraceptive failure (Mosher et al., 2004; Stevens-Simon, Kelly, Singer, & Cox, 1996; Rosenberg, Waugh, & Burnhill, 1998). Among women at risk for unintended pregnancy, 19 % of girls aged 15-19, 9% of young women aged 20-24, and 6% of women aged 25-29 are not using a contraceptive method (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005). Since 80% of college women are sexually active, it is important for women to have access to affordable, safe, and effective contraception (Greydanus, Rimsza, & Matytsina, 2005).
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study was to examine contraceptive attitudes and demographic characteristics of contraceptive users among female college students from three different levels of contraceptive use i.e., individuals who use contraceptives consistently, intermittently, or not at all. The first group consisted of uninterrupted contraceptive users. Individuals in the uninterrupted category must have used some form of contraception during every sexual act during the last three months of sexual activity prior to data collection. The second group consisted of intermittent contraceptive users. Individuals in the intermittent group used any form of contraception intermittently during the past three months of sexual activity. The last group consisted of contraceptive nonusers. These individuals had not used any form of contraception during the last three months of sexual activity. …