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Womens Health Issues. 2019 Mar - Apr;29(2):161-169. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2019.01.003. Epub 2019 Feb 20.

Emergency Contraception Use: The Influence of Awareness, Attitudes, and Beliefs Among Non-Hispanic White, Non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic Women in the United States.

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Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Electronic address:
Health Policy Center, Urban Institute, Washington, District of Columbia.



Given persistent racial/ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancies, this study aims to understand factors associated with emergency contraception (EC) use among non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic women.


This study used a nationally representative sample of 1,990 women of reproductive age in the United States who participated in the 2016 Survey of Family Planning and Women's Lives. Logistic regressions were estimated to assess the association of sexual/pregnancy history, attitudes toward pregnancy, attitudes toward contraception, awareness and beliefs about EC, and source of information regarding contraception with ever using EC.


After adjusting for demographic characteristics, we found no significant differences in ever using EC by race/ethnicity. Among non-Hispanic White women, those who used barrier methods of contraception, reported a previous unplanned pregnancy, reported having heard some or a lot about EC, and believed that EC is somewhat to very effective had higher odds of EC use. Among non-Hispanic Black women, those who reported a previous unplanned pregnancy and believed that EC was somewhat to very effective had higher odds of EC use. Among Hispanic women, those who reported using long-acting reversible contraceptives, having recent male sexual partners, and believing that EC is both somewhat to very safe and effective had higher odds of EC use.


Awareness and beliefs about safety and effectiveness are modifiable factors that may influence EC use. Population-level interventions can focus on improving awareness and understanding of the safety and effectiveness of EC.

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