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Objectives: As a form of contraception which is used after sex, emergency contraception occupies a singular place in the birth control repertoire. The relatively high UK incidence of pregnancy terminations and of teenage pregnancy, combined with the recognition that much early sex remains unplanned and unprotected, has led to calls for better access to emergency contraceptive methods. In this study a combination of self-completion questionnaires and semi-structured interviews was used to explore views of emergency contraception among women who were using the method. Methods: Five hundred and ten women attending two family planning clinics in Oxford and London completed a questionnaire in the waiting room and 53 women who were attending for emergency contraception took part in semi-structured interviews. Results: The view, presented in recently published UK guidelines, that emergency contraception is a reliable method and not dangerous to repeat, was not shared by the respondents. The rationale for and sources of women's concerns about the strength of the dose of hormonal emergency contraception and the nature of side-effects are explored.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Health Services Research and Policy

Publication Date





12 - 19