Background: Previous studies indicate that the sexual beliefs and mores of students in medical professions may influence their capacity to care for patients' sexuality and contraception issues. Students also represent a large sample of reproductive-age individuals. In this study, we examined contraceptive usage patterns in North American medical students.
Study design: Students using online medical student social and information networks enrolled in allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in North America between February and July of 2008 were invited to participate via email and published announcements in an Internet-based survey consisting of a questionnaire that assessed ethnodemographic factors, year in school and sexual history. We also collected information about current use of contraceptive and barrier methods. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were utilized to analyze responses.
Results: Among our 2269 complete responses, at least one form of contraception was being utilized by 71% of men and 76% of women. Condoms were the most popular form of contraceptive, utilized by 1011 respondents (50% of men and 40% of women). Oral contraceptive pills were the contraceptive of choice for 34% of men and 41% of women. Decreased rates of contraception use were associated with being black or Asian, not being in a relationship and having more sexual dysfunction in female respondents. Students who reported comfort discussing sexual issues with patients were more likely to use effective contraceptive methods themselves. Ten percent of this of sexually active medical students was not currently using contraception.
Conclusions: There are significant differences in contraceptive use based on demographics, even at the highest education levels. The personal contraception choices of medical students may influence their ability to accurately convey information about contraception to their patients. In addition, medical students may personally benefit from improved knowledge of effective contraceptive practices.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.