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Young Adults’ Sources of Contraceptive Information: Variations Based on Demographic Characteristics and Sexual Risk Behaviors


Objectives: Sexual information sources used by young adults can influence their contraceptive knowledge and behaviors, yet little is known about sources most frequently used by young adults, especially by groups with histories of sexual risk involvement.

Study design: Nationally representative data from 1800 unmarried young adults, aged 18–29 years, were analyzed to (1) examine the sources of contraceptive information most frequently used by young adults and (2) assess variations (if any) in source use based on demographic characteristics and sexual risk history (determined based on past sexual behaviors).

Results: “Doctors/nurses” was the most frequently used contraceptive information source reported by young adults. Significant variations existed in source use based on demographic characteristics and sexual risk history. Females were more likely to obtain contraceptive information from health care professionals, whereas males were more likely to report friends, partners, internet and television/radio as their frequently used source. Young adults with a sexual risk history were more likely to rely on doctors/nurses and less likely to report friends and internet as their frequently used source than those without a sexual risk history. Receiving contraceptive information from doctors/nurses was associated with greater accuracy in knowledge about contraceptive use and efficacy as compared to all other sources.

Conclusions; Young adults’ use of specific contraceptive information sources can vary based on their demographic characteristics and sexual risk involvement. Future research should identify better strategies to connect young adults, especially young males, with sexual risk histories to more reliable sources of information.