Patterns of emergency contraception use by age and ethnicity from a randomized trial comparing advance provision and information only

Contraception. 2006 Aug;74(2):110-7. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2006.02.005. Epub 2006 Jun 16.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Contraception, Postcoital / psychology
  • Contraception, Postcoital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / administration & dosage*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Levonorgestrel / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk-Taking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Contraceptives, Postcoital
  • Levonorgestrel