Why Do Women Miss Oral Contraceptive Pills? An Analysis of Women's Self-Described Reasons for Missed Pills


  • Janice D. Smith CNM, MS,

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    • Janice D. Smith, CNM, MS, is a graduate of the University of Michigan's nurse-midwifery program. She is currently practicing at the Center for Women's Health at Evergreen, Kirkland, WA.

  • Deborah Oakley PhD

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    • Deborah Oakley, PhD, is Professor Emeritus in the University of Michigan School of Nursing. From 1989 to 1994, she directed a National Institutes of Health-funded study comparing processes and outcomes of care provided by certified nurse-midwives and obstetricians.

Janice Smith, CNM, MS, Center for Women's Health at Evergreen, 12303 NE 130th Lane, Suite 500, Kirkland, WA 98034. E-mail: janiceds@umich.edu


Inconsistent use of oral contraceptives (OCs) exposes women to risks of unintended pregnancy. This study explored women's self-described reasons for missed OC pills. Data from diary cards completed by 141 women were studied to see how reasons for missing pills were related to patterns of pill use. The findings suggest that practitioners might improve OC use by focusing on the reasons that women miss pills, thus providing a more tailored approach that addresses individual risks based on women's personal experiences.