Objective  To evaluate a community-based intervention regarding emergency contraceptive pills, including a mass media campaign and information to women visiting family planning clinics.

Design  Quasi-experimental.

Setting  Two counties in Sweden.

Population  Eight hundred randomly selected women aged 16–30 years, 400 women in the intervention group and 400 in a comparison group.

Methods  Postal questionnaires before (2002) and after (2003) the intervention.

Main outcome measures  Exposure to the intervention, knowledge, attitudes, practices and intention to use emergency contraceptive pills.

Results  Before the intervention, the response rate was 71% (n= 564); after the intervention, the corresponding figure was 83% (n= 467); overall response rate 58%. Two-thirds (64%) of the targeted women had noticed the information campaign. One out of six who had visited a family planning clinic during the intervention year recalled being given information about emergency contraceptive pills. Specific knowledge and attitudes improved over time in both groups, but there was no difference in change between the groups. The proportion of women who had used emergency contraceptive pills increased from 27% to 31% over time. Intention to use emergency contraceptive pills in case of need was reported by 74% of the women and remained stable over time, but logistic regression showed that information during the previous year contributed to willingness to use the method in the intervention group.

Conclusions  Knowledge, attitudes and practices about emergency contraceptive pills increased in both groups. Emergency contraceptive pills is gradually becoming a more widely known, accepted and used contraceptive method in Sweden, a trend that may have limited the impact of the intervention.