Purpose: This study measures the impact of the advance provision of emergency contraception (EC) among family planning clients at 31 clinics in California.
Methods: We randomized over 9000 clients to receive a packet containing either two 0.75-mg levonorgestrel pills (Plan B) or an identical packet containing EC information only. We conducted follow-up interviews on a subset of 1130 clients selected to optimize the age and ethnicity distribution. The interviews collected information on EC use, contraception, risk-taking behaviors and EC attitudes.
Results: Clients who received EC in advance were significantly more likely to have used EC (19%) than women who received information only (12%) (p=.0009). There were no significant differences between the contraceptive and risk-taking behavior of the two treatment groups. Study respondents of all ages and ethnicities expressed positive attitudes about EC. Nevertheless, even with EC on-hand, many respondents who reported unprotected intercourse decided not to take EC.
Conclusion: More research should be done on the reasons women decide not to use EC even when readily available.