Ambivalence, Communication and Past Use: Understanding What Influences Women's Intentions to Use Contraceptives
Unintended pregnancy among women in the 18–30 age group is a public health concern. The Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM) provides a framework for exploring how women's perceptions of threat, efficacy, and fear influence intentions to use contraceptives. Past use and communication with best friends and partners were also considered. A telephone survey of 18–30-year-old women (N = 599) was completed. After univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted, the variables were entered into a hierarchal, multi-variate linear regression with three steps consistent with the EPPM to predict behavioral intention. The first step included the demographic variables of relationship status and income. The constructs for the EPPM were entered into step 2. Step 3 contained the fear measure. The model for the third step was significant, F(10,471) = 36.40, p < 0.001 and the variance explained by this complete model was 0.42. Results suggest that perceived severity of the consequences of an unintended pregnancy (p < 0.01), communication with friends (p < 0.01) and last sexual partner (p < 0.05), relationship status (p < 0.01), and past use (p < 0.001) were associated with women's intentions to use contraceptives. A woman's perception of the severity was related to her intention to use contraceptives. Half of the women (50.3%) reported ambivalence about the severity of an unintended pregnancy. In our study, talking with their last sexual partner had a positive effect on intentions to use contraceptives, while talking with friends influenced intentions in a negative direction. These results reconfirm the need for public health practitioners and health care providers to consider level of ambivalence toward unintended pregnancy, communication with partner, and relationship status when trying to improve women's contraceptive behaviors. Implications for effective communication interventions are discussed.