Associations between Pregnancy Intention, Attitudes, and Contraceptive Use among Women Veterans in the ECUUN Study

Womens Health Issues. Nov-Dec 2018;28(6):480-487. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2018.07.004. Epub 2018 Sep 18.


Background: Although pregnancy intention is strongly associated with contraceptive use, little is known about the interaction between pregnancy intention and attitude, or how they jointly affect contraceptive use.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from a national survey of women veterans who receive care within the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System were used to examine relationships among pregnancy intention (in next year, in >1 year, never, not sure), attitude toward hypothetical pregnancy (worst thing, neutral, best thing), and contraceptive use among women at risk for unintended pregnancy. Bivariate and multivariable analyses assessed associations between pregnancy intention and attitude, both separately and jointly, with contraceptive use. Multinomial regression assessed the relationship of intention and attitude with contraceptive method effectiveness.

Results: Among 858 women at risk of unintended pregnancy, bivariate analysis demonstrated that pregnancy intention and attitude were associated, but not perfectly aligned. In logistic regression models including both variables, intention of never versus in next year (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.34-5.75) and attitude of worst thing versus best thing (aOR, 2.86; 95% CI, 1.42-5.74) were each positively associated with contraception use. Among women using contraception, intention of never (aOR, 3.17; 95% CI, 1.33-7.59) and attitude of worst thing (OR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.05-4.17) were associated with use of highly effective (e.g., intrauterine devices and implants) versus least effective (e.g., barrier) methods.

Conclusions: These findings support prior research suggesting that pregnancy intention alone does not fully explain contraceptive behaviors and imply that attitude toward pregnancy plays an important role in shaping contraceptive use independent of pregnancy intentions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Contraception Behavior / psychology*
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult