Subjective efficacy of preventive methods: image is everything

Subjective efficacy of preventive methods: image is everything

L.P. van Dalen, R.H.W. van Lunsen

Department of Sexology & Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology,

Academic Medical Centre/University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Modern contraceptive methods are changing the world. After the introduction

of modern contraceptive methods, contraceptive behaviour increased globally from

9% during the 1960s to 58 % in 1999; but with a difference between developed-

(65–80%) and underdeveloped countries (53%). Differences in contraceptive use

can also be found within the developed counties: total percentages of

contraceptive users are relatively equal, but the quality of the contraceptive

use varies per country. Variations between abortion rates are the best

illustration of these differences. For decades, the abortion rates in the

Netherlands have been the lowest in the world. Unfortunately, in recent years

statistics indicate that the quality of prevention behaviour in the Netherlands

is deteriorating. The question arises what factors are responsible for this

decline. In order to correctly interpret the abortion and STD statistics three

main questions must be answered.First, exactly what variables influence the

quality of prevention behaviour? Second, which sub-populations within Dutch

society are more at risk for unwanted pregnancy and/ or contracting a STD? And

finally, is every sub-population influenced in the same way by the different

factors? Literature shows that one of the factors that influences preventive

behaviour is the perceived efficacy of the preventive method. From 1989 until

2000 data was gathered from a representative sample of 5000 women in the age

group of 15–50 years on their contraceptive behaviour (GfK study). This data

contains detailed demographical information as well as information on

contraceptive knowledge, contraceptive and condom use, reasoning on starting,

switching and discontinuing of contraceptive methods, information sources used,

information on (perceived) side effects and (perceived) efficacy of the

preventive method. In this presentation data will be presented on differences in

perceived efficacy for different subpopulations. Results of the questionnaire

will be compared for, amongst others, different age groups, social economic

status, level of education and the presently used preventive method. Results

show, for instance, a strong trend for subjective efficacy to be relatively low

for contraceptive methods the individual is not using and high for the method

that they are using, and that these beliefs don’t necessarily coincide with

the objective efficacy of the preventive method.

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