Objectives: To identify characteristics of patients 18 years of age and younger who would and would not consider using levonorgestrel implants (Norplant) for contraception and to isolate potential barriers to its use.
Study design: Survey of 323 adolescents attending family planning or obstetrics clinics between April 29 and October 27, 1992. For purposes of analyses, patients were stratified by their willingness to consider using Norplant. Statements about Norplant that differentiated between groups were considered significant barriers. Additional analyses were conducted for the sample, stratified by pregnancy status, race and ethnicity, parity, and Norplant class attendance.
Results: Sixty-four percent of participants stated that they would be willing to consider using Norplant. These adolescents were significantly older, were more likely to already have given birth or have had abortions, planned to delay (additional) childbearing for 5 or more years, aspired to receive college educations, and reported lower annual household incomes than did adolescents unwilling to consider using the device. Identified barriers to Norplant use included misinformation, perceived advantages, physical aversions, perceived efficacy, fertility concerns, social influences, and concerns about safety and side effects.
Conclusions: Misperceptions and concerns about safety and side effects will prevent many adolescents from using Norplant. Recent negative publicity surrounding its use will intensify this problem. Health care providers must work to remove these barriers so that sexually active adolescents can make informed decisions about contraceptives.