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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Adolescents’ Acceptance of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception After an Educational Intervention in the Emergency Department: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Introduction: Adolescents who seek care in the emergency department (ED) are a cohort at increased risk of unintended pregnancy. Although adolescents are interested in learning about pregnancy prevention in the ED, there is a lack of effective educational interventions in this setting. Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are highly effective and safe in teens, yet are underutilized. This study assessed contraception use among adolescents in the ED and evaluated the impact of an educational video on their interest in and uptake of LARCs.

Methods: We conducted a two-arm randomized controlled trial on a convenience sample of sexually active females 14 to 21 years old in an urban pediatric ED. Participants were randomized to an educational video or standard care. All participants completed a survey and were given an informational card about affiliated teen clinics with the option to schedule an appointment. We assessed pre-post mean differences between control and intervention participants and pre-post differences among intervention participants. Participants were followed three months after their ED visit to examine use of contraception.

Results: A total of 79 females were enrolled (42 control and 37 intervention). The mean age was 17 years, and most were youth of color. The proportion of participants with a prior pregnancy was 18%. Almost all participants reported wanting to avoid pregnancy, yet 18% reported not using contraception at last intercourse. At baseline, 17.7% of participants were somewhat or very interested in the intrauterine device (IUD) or implant. After watching the video, 42.3% were somewhat or very interested in the IUD and 35.7% in the implant. Among those who watched the video, there were significant increases in interest in using an IUD or implant (p<.001). Compared to controls, adolescents who watched the video were also significantly more likely to report wanting an IUD (p<0.001) or implant (p=0.002). A total of 46% were reached for follow-up. Of these, 16% had initiated a LARC method after their ED visit (p=NS).

Conclusion: Most adolescent females in the ED want to avoid pregnancy, but are using ineffective methods of contraception. A brief educational video on LARCs was acceptable to adolescents and feasible to implement in a busy urban ED setting. Adolescents who watched the video had significantly greater interest in using LARCs, but no demonstrated change in actual adoption of contraception.

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