Emergency contraception: knowledge and attitudes of family medicine providers

Fam Med. 2004 Jun;36(6):417-22.


Background and objectives: Emergency contraception (EC) is an underutilized method of preventing unplanned pregnancy. This study assessed family physicians' and nurse providers' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about EC.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was distributed to faculty, residents, and clinic nurses in a Midwestern department of family medicine. Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Statistical significance was tested by chi-square test, Student's t test, and Mann-Whitney U test where appropriate.

Results: Seventy-eight providers participated (response rate 81%). Seventy-four percent of physicians have prescribed EC in the past, with an average of 3.2 (range 0-10) times in the last year. The majority of providers reported that they were familiar with indications (96%) and protocols (78%) for prescribing EC, yet knowledge inaccuracies were identified. Overall attitudes regarding EC were positive.

Conclusions: Although the majority of participating providers were willing to prescribe EC and had generally favorable attitudes toward it, rates of providing this therapy were low. There was a discrepancy between providers' perceived and actual knowledge about EC. Interventions targeting misunderstandings might help reduce missed opportunities to provide EC.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Contraception, Postcoital*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Midwestern United States
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*