A study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute and published in the June 2012 edition of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health demonstrates the link between knowledge of contraceptive methods and avoidance of risky behaviors among young adults. The Guttmacher institute collected data from a nationally representative sample of 1,800 sexually active people between the ages of 18 and 29 in 2009. They reported that “more than half of young men and a quarter of young women received low scores on contraceptive knowledge, and six in 10 underestimated the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.”

The study found that the odds of a woman having unprotected sex in a three month period decreased by 9% with each correct answer on a contraception knowledge scale. The study stated that young adults were likely to engage in risky behavior due to fear of side effects of contraception, societal attitudes that “undervalue the importance of contraception,” or mistrust of the government’s role in birth control promotion.

The overall conclusions of the study were that “programs to increase young adults’ knowledge about contraceptive methods and use are urgently needed. Given the demonstrated link between method knowledge and contraceptive behaviors, such programs may be useful in addressing risky behavior in this population.”

Guttmacher Institute Publication 6/12; ThinkProgress 5/14/12; Salon 5/11/12

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