PURPOSE: To explore knowledge, attitudes toward, and experience with, the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) among teenagers in Sweden.
METHODS: A questionnaire with 23 questions concerning the students' demographics, knowledge of, attitudes toward, and experience of the ECP was delivered to a random sample of 20 classes in senior high school in two medium-sized cities in Sweden. The participation rate was 100% (n = 408). Differences in responses between teenagers in the two cities, boys and girls, theoretical and practical classes, or native Swedish and immigrant teenagers were calculated with the Chi-square test.
RESULTS: The mean age was 16.5 years. Almost half (45.4%) of the teenagers had had sexual intercourse and of those, 28.3% stated that they themselves or their partner had used ECP. Four of five teenagers knew about ECP and where to obtain it if necessary. Many teenagers (67.3%) also knew that ECP prevented implantation. The main sources of information about ECP were youth clinics (n = 179) and friends (n = 159). The attitude toward using ECP in an emergency situation was positive, but the teenagers, especially girls, were restrictive as to whether ECP should be available without a prescription. The girls believed ECP could be used much more, and two-thirds of both sexes thought it could lead to negligence with ongoing contraception. Seventy-seven percent of teenagers preferred turning to a youth clinic when in need of ECP. One in four believed that concerns for side effects could deter them from using ECP.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on the results in the present study, the importance of counseling in this situation is confirmed. The awareness about ECP was good, but teenagers also expressed concerns about side effects. The girls were more hesitant than the boys about having ECP available over the counter.
2001. Vol. 28, no 4, 313-318 p.