Knowledge of and perceived access to emergency contraception at two urgent care clinics in California

Eleanor Schwarz, Matthew F. Reeves, Barbara Gerbert, Ralph Gonzales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: California allowed women access to emergency contraception (EC) without a physicians' prescription in 2002. Methods: To assess knowledge of and perceived access to EC among California women outside of family planning settings, we administered a computerized survey to women, age 18-45 years, who could become pregnant, in the waiting areas of two urgent care clinics in San Francisco in 2005. Results: Four hundred forty-six women were enrolled. Most women [87%; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 83-89%] in this well-educated (48% had college degrees), ethnically diverse sample knew that a postcoital contraceptive exists. However, many women (32%; 95% CI, 28-37%) did not know EC is currently available in California. Only 49% of women knew that using EC will have no adverse effect on their future fertility and only 15% knew that EC will not cause a miscarriage or birth defects if used by a woman who is pregnant. Seven percent thought EC was not at all effective and 27% thought EC was somewhat or very unsafe. Eight percent had EC at home for future use. Conclusions: Functional knowledge of EC remains limited in California. Public education campaigns are needed to allow women to benefit from pharmacy direct access to EC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-213
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergency contraception
  • Urgent care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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