Emergency contraception: knowledge, attitude and prescription practice among doctors in different specialties in Hong Kong

J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2009 Aug;35(4):767-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0756.2008.00995.x.


Aim: Few studies have evaluated doctors' knowledge, attitudes and practices as regards emergency contraception (EC). Some studies have reported inadequate knowledge, bias and wrong prescriptions by doctors. This article compares the prescription pattern, attitude and knowledge of EC in Hong Kong doctors in different specialties.

Methods: Questionnaires were mailed to family physicians, obstetrician-gynecologists and doctors working in family planning clinics to ascertain their attitudes to EC. Those who provided EC described the types of EC used, whether drugs were given in advance and answered a 12-question knowledge test. Those who did not provide EC stated why.

Results: A total of 443 completed questionnaires were analyzed: 70.9% of doctors agreed that the benefits of EC outweigh its risks and 61.2% agreed that doctors should discuss it with clients. Advanced provision was supported by 54.2% of doctors but reduced to 32.5% if the target client was a girl aged 16 or below. Even fewer doctors (40.2%) supported the over-the-counter sales of EC pills. In the knowledge test, family planning doctors scored 10.45 out of 12 and obstetrician-gynecologists in private practice had the lowest score of 6.08. Family planning doctors used levonorgestrel pills while private family physicians and obstetrician-gynecologists used Yuzpe. Among 352 doctors who provided EC, only 21.7% of private family physicians and 15.9% of private obstetrician-gynecologists prescribed it in advance.

Conclusions: Only doctors working in family planning clinics were competent in their knowledge of emergency contraception and up to date with current practice. Although half of the doctors supported advanced provision, few implemented it. Most doctors did not support advanced provision to young girls nor the over-the-counter sales of EC pills.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Contraception, Postcoital*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*