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Homeless Women: Who is Really at Risk for Unintended Pregnancy?



To identify correlates of failure to use contraception among homeless women at risk for unintended pregnancy.

Study design

A representative sample of 974 homeless women surveyed in Los Angeles County in 1997 included 457 who were at risk for unintended pregnancy. Logistic regression modeling was used to identify important predictors of contraceptive nonuse or rare use in the past year.


One third of the sample used contraception rarely or never in the past year. Having a partner, being monogamous, and not engaging in sex trade predicted contraceptive nonuse or rare use (odds ratios 2.43-4.73, P < .05). Partner dislike and uncertainty about which contraceptive to use were also associated with failure to use contraception (odds ratios 2.64-2.96, P < .05). Having a regular source of care and having been encouraged to use contraception protected against failure to use contraception.


Homeless women, including those at apparently low risk for unintended pregnancy, need to be targeted with integrated services that include education, a regular source of medical care, and encouragement to use contraception.

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