Knowledge and likelihood to recommend intrauterine devices for adolescents among school-based health center providers

J Adolesc Health. 2012 Oct;51(4):319-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.12.024. Epub 2012 Mar 13.


Purpose: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend intrauterine devices (IUDs) as safe and highly effective contraceptives for adolescents. Nevertheless, many U.S. providers do not recommend or provide IUDs to adolescents-a population at high risk for unintended pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to identify barriers to IUD provision for adolescents.

Methods: A 36-item self-administered survey of knowledge and attitudes regarding IUDs was completed by 162 staff of New York City school-based health centers, including 69 clinicians (e.g., pediatricians and nurse practitioners) and 93 nonclinicians (e.g., social workers and health educators).

Results: Half (55%) of all respondents would be likely to recommend an IUD to a patient under age 20 years. Respondents were less likely to recommend an IUD for patients with history of recent STD (31%), remote pelvic inflammatory disease (37%), and patients not in a monogamous relationship (38%). Whereas 77% of respondents indicated that IUDs are safe for adolescents, 18% of those respondents would be unlikely to recommend an IUD to a patient under age 20 years. While 86% of respondents knew that IUDs can be used in nulliparous women, 25% of those respondents would be unlikely to recommend an IUD to a patient who has never been pregnant. Additionally, 61% believed that counseling patients about IUDs would take more time than other methods.

Conclusions: Misinformation about risks associated with IUDs and beliefs about patient eligibility may present barriers to provision. Apparent contradictions between knowledge and likelihood to recommend IUDs warrant further study.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices*
  • New York City
  • Pediatrics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / prevention & control
  • School Health Services*
  • School Nursing
  • Social Work