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Author Notes:

Email Address:Laura M.D. Gaydos, Lgaydos@emory.edu


Research Funding:

This work was sponsored in part by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Riskier Than We Thought: Revised Estimates of Noncontracepting Women Risking Unintended Pregnancy


Journal Title:

Public Health Reports


Volume 121, Number 2


, Pages 155-159

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


SYNOPSIS Objectives Risk-taking is defined as non-use of contraception among sexually active women who do not desire pregnancy. The published National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) definition of risk of unintended pregnancy includes sterilized women and women relying on partner sterilization in the statistic. However, this inclusion skews percentages of risk-taking women to appear smaller than is realistic since sterilized women face minimal risk of pregnancy. The objective of this study was to obtain realistic estimates of risk-taking behavior to identify groups at special need for improved services. Methods In calculating risk-taking statistics, sterilized women and women relying on partner sterilization are removed from both the numerator and denominator. The numerator includes all non-contracepting women who believe that they are fecund. The authors calculated the proportion of risk-taking women for various age, ethnic, and marital status groups. Results Overall, 14.0% of sexually active, fecund women are risk-taking. Except for teenagers, who do not use sterilization, the proportions of risk takers are higher than the NSFG estimates of proportion of women at risk of unintended pregnancy in all groups. Differences in risk estimates ranged from 0.4% to 10.7%, with the greatest differences seen among formerly married and Hispanic black women. Conclusions These results indicate that published NSFG percentages of adult women at risk of unintended pregnancy underestimate risk-taking behavior for groups previously thought to be at lower risk of unintended pregnancy.

Copyright information:

© 2006 Association of Schools of Public Health

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