Use of Contraceptive Methods Among Homeless Women for Protection Against Unwanted Pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Prior Use and Willingness to Use in the Future

Published in: Contraception, v. 63, no. 5, May 2001, p. 227-281

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2001

by Lillian Gelberg, Barbara Leake, Michael C. Lu, Ronald Andersen, Suzanne L. Wenzel, Hal Morgenstern, Paul Koegel, Carole H. Browner

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Lifetime contraceptive use as reported by a representative sample of 764 homeless women in Los Angeles was examined overall and for different age and ethnic subgroups and contrasted with expressed willingness to use specific methods. Over 80% of the women reported condom use. However, less than 5% had ever used female condoms, although 38% of the overall sample and 73% of the teenagers said they were willing to try them. Similar gaps between reported use and endorsement were found for other particular methods. Native Americans had relatively low use of virtually all contraceptive methods, and over 80% of African-Americans rejected implants. Our findings suggested that age-related factors and ethno-cultural perceptions may deter some homeless women from using contraception. In any case, gaps between realized use and willingness to use may represent missed opportunities to prevent the high rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections found among homeless women.

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