Objectives: To investigate the contraception and sexual health-related awareness, attitudes, and practices of a representative sample of Canadian women of childbearing age.
Methods: A self-report survey was mailed to a national sample of 3345 women, aged 15 to 44 years, who were members of a pre-recruited market research panel. Survey questions and methodology were similar to 3 previous Canadian Contraception Studies, allowing for description of current patterns of behaviours and beliefs and comparison of trends over time.
Results: Of 3345 women contacted, 1582 returned completed surveys, for a response rate of 47.3%. Responses were weighted to represent Canadian women by region, age, and marital status on the basis of current census data. Eighty-six percent of women sampled had ever had sexual intercourse and 78% were currently sexually active. Women's familiarity with oral contraceptives and condoms as methods of contraception was high (96% and 93%, respectively), but familiarity with other methods was much lower (sterilization, 62%; withdrawal, 59%; the morning-after pill, 57%; intrauterine devices, 50%; depot [injectable] medroxyprogesterone acetate, 38%). A very favourable opinion was held by 63% of respondents concerning oral contraceptives, by 38% concerning condoms, and by 39% and 28% concerning male and female sterilization, respectively. Among respondents who have ever had sexual intercourse, the most frequently used current methods were oral contraceptives (32%), condoms (21%), male sterilization (15%), female sterilization (8%), and withdrawal (6%). Nine percent of these respondents reported using no method of contraception at all. The currently reported rate of female sterilization is the lowest ever recorded in Canada. Survey results show that adherence to contraceptive methods is a challenge for many women and their partners, and that risk of sexually transmitted disease is an ongoing concern.
Conclusion: This study provides a wide-ranging examination of contraception awareness, beliefs, and use among Canadian women that may provide guidance for clinical and public health practice. Part 1 of this report describes the methodology of the 2002 Canadian Contraception Study and the overall results of this study; Part 2 considers results pertaining specifically to adolescent women and women in their later reproductive years, reports on indicators of women's sexual function and reproductive health history, describes approaches to addressing challenges in contraception counselling, and presents data concerning trends in Canadian women's awareness and use of contraception over the past 2 decades.