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Keywords:

  • emergency contraception;
  • epidemiology;
  • university students

Abstract

Objective  This study characterizes (by age, reasons for use and frequency of use) the population who sought emergency contraception (Plan B) by prescription from the University Health Services (UHS) at the University of Kentucky. The study also determines whether the study population used other prescription birth-control products or used Plan B as the sole method of birth control.

Methods  Subjects were students who requested Plan B at UHS or obtained Plan B by prescription from Kentucky Clinic Pharmacy. Subjects were identified retrospectively by medical record extraction and prescription data analysis. Qualitative analysis of health behaviour used grounded theory.

Key findings  The typical patient is a 22-year-old female who regularly uses condoms. Sixty-three per cent of women were using prescription birth control, most commonly an oral contraceptive (28.2%), at the time they requested Plan B. Twenty-five per cent of subjects reported contraceptive failure.

Conclusions  In this population, patients usually seek emergency contraception due to a gap in use of regular birth control or failure of the method. Repeat use of Plan B was low. Use of Plan B did not change the behaviour of most women with regard to use of contraception.