Emergency contraceptive pills: a survey of use and experiences at College Health Centers in the mid-Atlantic United States

Sawyer, R.G.; Fong, D.; Stankus, L.R.; McKeller, L.A.

Journal of American college health J of ACH 44(4): 139-144


ISSN/ISBN: 0744-8481
PMID: 8583037
DOI: 10.1080/07448481.1996.9937520
Document Number: 295045
A telephone survey was conducted of college and university health centers in the mid-Atlantic region of the US (District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) to examine the availability of emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) at these centers and their experiences with ECPs. ECPs were defined as combined estrogen-progestin oral contraception, which requires administration of the first dose within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. 65% of the institutions did not distribute ECPs. Insufficient staff (44%), religious conviction (27%), and no perceived need for ECPs because students had never asked for ECPs services (18.5%) were leading reasons for not providing ECPs. Two schools distributed ECPs only in cases of rape. Availability of ECPs to students increased with size (5000 = 28%; 5000-15,999 = 36%; 16,000-25,000 = 71%; and 25,000 = 80%). Among institutions with enrollments of less than 5000, institutions providing ECPs were more likely than those not providing ECPs to have more part-time nurse practitioners and part-time nurses (p 0.05). Among institutions with enrollments of 5000-15,999, those providing ECPs were more likely to have more full-time nurse practitioners than those not providing ECPs (p 0.01). 79% of the schools distributing ECPs had a written protocol for ECPs distribution. The most common contraindication to ECP distribution was a positive pregnancy test (98%). Women with contraindications to the pill were not given ECPs. 58% of the schools advertised ECPs services, particularly through peer education (88%) and a campus newspaper (84%). Staff and administrator attitudes may have had a strong impact on availability of ECPs. These findings raise some important issues. Students have a legal right to ECP services. Institutions that do not provide ECPs are missing an opportunity to prevent unintended pregnancies.

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