Emergency contraception: a national survey of adolescent health experts

Fam Plann Perspect. Jan-Feb 1997;29(1):15-9, 24.


In a survey of 167 physicians with expertise in adolescent health, 84% said they prescribe contraception to adolescents, but only 80% of these prescribe emergency contraception, generally a few times a year at most. Some 12% of respondents said they believe that providing emergency contraception to adolescents would encourage contraceptive risk-taking, 25% said they think it would discourage correct use of other methods and 29% said they think repeated use of the method could post health risks. Physicians who were more likely than their colleagues to prescribe emergency contraception included obstetrician-gynecologists (92%), those who graduated from medical school after 1970 (77%) and those who describe their practice as being in an "academic" setting (76%). Physicians may restrict use of the method by limiting treatment to adolescents who seek it within 48 hours after unprotected intercourse (29%), by requiring a pregnancy test (64%) or an office visit (68%), or by using the timing of menses as a criterion for providing the method (46%). While 41% of physicians who provide emergency contraception counsel adolescents about the method during family planning visits, only 28% do so during visits for routine health care; 16% counsel women who are not yet sexually active about the method.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Medicine*
  • Contraception*
  • Emergencies*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States