Contraceptive attitudes and knowledge of female adolescents

Rachel M Cunningham, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Despite the recent decline in adolescent pregnancy rates, adolescent pregnancy continues to be a significant public health issue in the United States. The United States consistently reports the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy among developed countries. Adolescent mothers are more likely to have multiple pregnancies, to access welfare and other social services, and to be unmarried. Teen mothers are less likely to complete high school, enter college, and typically command much less earning power throughout their lifetime as compared to women who delay childbirth until later. Moreover, the United States spends approximately $9.1 billion annually on teen pregnancies. Additionally disconcerting is recent data which demonstrates that the decline in teen pregnancy rates is leveling off and that the rate of adolescent pregnancy has increased for the first time since 1993. Contraceptive use is a key component to the prevention of adolescent pregnancy. Contraceptive nonuse and failure result in unintended pregnancies among adolescents. This review sought to assess the levels of knowledge and attitudes toward contraception among adolescent females. Levels of knowledge of contraception among adolescents are tolerable; however, there is substantial room for improvement. Misperceptions about the side effects and mechanisms of action of contraception are pervasive among this population. Adolescents who have low levels of knowledge regarding contraception tend to discontinue usage or use inconsistently. Attitudes toward contraception are greatly influenced by levels of knowledge. As a result, adolescents tend to develop more positive attitudes as misperceptions are abated. Moreover, clear disparities persist among adolescents with minority and young adolescents being at increased risk of pregnancy, poor contraceptive use, and insufficient knowledge about contraception. Understanding the level of knowledge of and attitudes toward contraceptives among adolescents is essential to the development of effective pregnancy prevention programs. In order to effectively reduce adolescent pregnancy, prevention initiatives must target the vulnerable populations and incorporate the necessary cultural components.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Cunningham, Rachel M, "Contraceptive attitudes and knowledge of female adolescents" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1462272.