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J Adolesc Health. 1993 Jul;14(5):373-9.

Patterns of contraceptive use and pregnancy among young Hispanic women on the Texas-Mexico border.

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Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-1307.


Our objective was to identify significant family planning and health access problems of young Hispanic women on the Texas-Mexico border. Samples of 300 young Hispanic women living in each of the twin cities of El Paso and Juarez were interviewed regarding their knowledge, attitudes, and experiences with respect to birth control, pregnancy, maternal and child health, and health-care services. Knowledge and attitudes of the women about birth control technology were assessed along with their beliefs regarding the use of such technology. Results showed that contraceptive knowledge and usage patterns for young Hispanic women in Juarez and El Paso were significantly different. They relied on different types of birth control methods and also differed with respect to confidence in these methods and related medical services. Both groups reflected positive attitudes toward both child bearing and use of birth control although Juarez women were significantly more favorable toward child bearing. Both groups overwhelmingly favored female doctors. The young women studied have accepted the need for birth control, prefer fewer children, and have some degree of confidence in medical services. Their knowledge and use of reliable versus unreliable birth control devices appear to be major areas requiring culturally sensitive intervention.


Social work students administered a questionnaire to 600 randomly selected adolescent females from El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, to examine their knowledge and use of contraceptive methods and their attitudes about pregnancy, contraception, and child care. 11.7% of the El Paso respondents and 16.7% of the Juarez respondents had been pregnant at some time. Oral contraceptives (OCs) were the most known contraceptive method. Women in El Paso were more likely to be familiar with OCs (98% vs. 91.3%), condoms (93.7% vs. 74.7%), vaginal methods (79.7% vs. 67.8%), and withdrawal (65.3% vs. 44.5%) than were those in Juarez (p = .001). On the other hand, more Juarez women than El Paso women knew about injectables (79.8% vs. 34.1%), sterility or tubal ligation (89.9% vs. 63.3%), vasectomy (73.2% vs. 69%), Billing's method (19.2% vs. 5.3%), and the rhythm method (73.6% vs. 36.4%) (= = .001). Many women from both cities used ineffective methods. Women in Juarez were much more likely to use the rhythm method than those in El Paso (26.4% vs. 3.4%; p = .001). Women from both cities, particularly those in Juarez (p = .001), believed more information on contraception was needed. They felt strongly that men should also be responsible for family planning and approve of women using contraceptives. They believed that couples should have fewer children. Juarez women has a more positive view of pregnancy and childbearing than did El Paso women. El Paso women were more likely to visit a physician in the last year for reasons other than check-ups (mean number of visits, 1.88 vs. 1.25; p = .005). Most women preferred to receive maternal and child health/family planning services from a female physician (56% in Juarez and 64.3% in El Paso). These findings indicated that cultural differences in contraceptive knowledge and usage as well as confidence in various methods and related medical services existed. They emphasized the need for culturally relevant education, research, and service programs concerning adolescents in the Texas-Mexico border region.

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