A report in the July 2000 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology demonstrated that women who have unprotected sex are more likely to use emergency contraception if they already have it on hand.
The study, which followed 213 young women who attended a publicly funded family planning clinic assigned 102 control subjects to education regarding the use of emergency contraception and 113 subjects to education plus the provision of the medication.
Study subjects ranged in age from 16 to 24 years, and 76% were from among ethnic minorities.
When contacted 4 months later, 20% of those in the treatment group reported having used emergency contraception, compared with 7% of those in the education-only group. Plus the portion of participants who reported "never had unprotected sex" during the previous 4 months increased from 33% at baseline to 56% at the end of the study.
The study successfully demonstrated that if emergency contraception is available, patients will use it effectively. It also shows that young women are exposed to barriers which halt them from obtaining emergency contraception when they need it.
The researchers in the study concluded, "The biggest barrier to emergency contraceptive use is doctors, who need to be proactive in giving this to their patients."