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Keywords:

  • Young adults;
  • decision making;
  • emergency contraception;
  • couples

Abstract

Purpose: Unintended pregnancy is a significant public health problem among young people worldwide. The purpose of this study was to explore and better understand the reasons for the apparent underuse of emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) in young people in coupled relationships.

Theoretical Rational: In postmodern explications of grounded theory, social construction of realities and the influence of subjectivities on the meanings of experiences lead to the development of partial truths that may change with time, context, and situation.

Methods: Grounded theory methods guided semi-structured face-to-face interviews and data analysis. Twenty-two couples aged 18 to 25 years old were recruited through public notices.

Findings: Four salient and interrelated conditions were constructed to help explain the complexities involved in young couples decision making regarding ECP use: (a) the shifting locus of responsibility for contraceptive decision making: in a perfect world versus biological reality; (b) relationship power: control-vulnerability continuum; (c) a woman's autonomy over her own body; and (d) conflicting views on ECP.

Conclusions: Healthcare professionals whose practice includes young people need to be aware of possible couple dynamics when discussing contraception. Clients in supportive relationships should be encouraged to engage in open communication with their partners about their contraception needs, including possible ECP use.

Clinical Relevance: The results of this study contribute to the body of knowledge with regard to decision making related to ECP use in young adults.