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Why don’t teenagers use contraception? A qualitative interview study.

Brown, Sally; Guthrie, Kate


Sally Brown

Kate Guthrie


Objectives: to investigate the causes of unintended pregnancies and, in particular, reasons for non-use of contraception among young women attending a day unit for surgical abortion.
Methods: women between the ages of 16 and 20 attending a day unit at a hospital in the north of England who were due to have, or had recently had, a surgical abortion were interviewed about their knowledge of and views on contraception, sex education, and sexual health services. Twenty-four young women were interviewed, 22 on the day unit, one in her home and one over the phone, after the abortion. Interviews were recorded with the consent of the interviewees and fully transcribed. Transcripts were analysed using a grounded theory approach.
Results: the most common reasons for non-use of contraception related to forgetting or ‘not thinking’, being ‘in the moment’ (i.e., being ‘in the mood’, not wishing to ‘break a spell’), the influence of alcohol, and pressure from young men not to use condoms. Lack of knowledge was rarely cited as a reason.
Conclusions: young people are aware of the need to use contraception, and knowledgeable about its availability; however, they often do not think about using it, especially where sex is unplanned. Alcohol and being ‘in the moment’ are key factors which diminish the likelihood of contraceptive use.


Brown, S., & Guthrie, K. (2010). Why don’t teenagers use contraception? A qualitative interview study. European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 15, 197-204.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date May 13, 2010
Publication Date May 13, 2010
Deposit Date May 3, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 3, 2016
Print ISSN 1362-5187
Electronic ISSN 1473-0782
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Pages 197-204
Keywords Contraception; teenagers; pregnancy; abortion; qualitative;
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