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J Pediatr. 1990 Mar;116(3):463-71.

Adolescent contraceptive behavior: an assessment of decision processes.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


The utility of a rational model of contraceptive use in adolescents was evaluated in a cohort of 325 sexually active adolescents aged 14 to 19 years. Adolescents were interviewed regarding their beliefs about the consequences of using each of four methods of contraception, evaluation of those consequences, perception of the wishes of others regarding use of each method, motivation to comply with those wishes, general attitude toward using the method, view of general social expectations regarding their use of the method, and their intention to use the method during the next year. They were reinterviewed 1 year later to determine actual use. The results support the utility of this model for understanding adolescent behavior. Significant associations were found between intentions to use contraceptive methods and their actual use. Intentions were significantly related to adolescents' attitudes toward using the methods and their perception of social expectations regarding use. General attitudes were significantly related to a summary score reflecting the adolescents' beliefs about specific consequences of use weighted by their evaluations of them. General social perceptions were significantly related to a summary score of perceived desires of specific individuals multiplied by the adolescent's desire to comply with those desires. These findings indicate that physicians can be more effective in clinical practice by querying adolescents about their beliefs and intentions and about their perceptions of significant individuals in their lives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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