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Dynamic Patterns of Contraceptive Use among Young Women

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Yasamin Kusunoki

Consistent use of effective contraception is key to reducing early and/or unintended pregnancy. However, a substantial proportion of young people continue to engage in unprotected sex, those who do use contraception do not do so consistently and often do not use an effective method, and there are persisting differences in use by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. In order to better understand how to improve contraceptive use among young people, we must first ask how young people actually use contraception – in other words, what are the typical patterns of use? This is impossible to understand from previously existing data resources, but will be clearly answered by the proposed project. This knowledge is essential to our understanding of “typical use failure rates” of specific methods, and essential to interventions that attempt to reduce those failure rates. I propose new research to examine young women’s dynamic patterns of contraceptive use during the transition to adulthood. The specific aims of the proposed project are to: (1) identify the dynamic patterns of contraceptive use; and (2) investigate individual-level correlates of the dynamic patterns of contraceptive use. To meet these aims, I propose a study based on the analysis of existing data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study. These new and innovative data feature rich individual background information and prospective detailed weekly journal-based measures of contraception for a racially and socioeconomically diverse, population-based sample of 1,003 18- and 19-year-old women. The young women participated in a baseline face-to-face interview between 2008 and 2009 and then enrolled in a 2.5 year weekly journal in which they provided updates about their attitudes and behaviors related relationships, contraceptive use, and pregnancy. The findings from the proposed project will result in at least one high-quality article. I also expect that this paper will help me secure NIH funding for planned future research on contraceptive use failure rates.

Funding Period: 03/01/2014 to 02/28/2015

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