Characteristics, behaviour, and experiences of Australian contraceptive users: a reproductive health and safer sex perspective

Parsons, A 2013, Characteristics, behaviour, and experiences of Australian contraceptive users: a reproductive health and safer sex perspective, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health Sciences, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Characteristics, behaviour, and experiences of Australian contraceptive users: a reproductive health and safer sex perspective
Author(s) Parsons, A
Year 2013
Abstract The aim of this thesis was to examine the utility of a range of demographic, sexual behaviour, and risk attitude variables in predicting contraceptive use and method selection. This thesis also aimed to explore the nature of user experiences including their reasons for use, side effects, and non-contraceptive benefits, and their experiences with the service environment in relation to information provision and contraceptive counselling. These experiential factors were examined to determine their ability to predict satisfaction with contraceptive options and likelihood of continuation.

Quantitative data was collected via an internet-based questionnaire from 1271 Australian females and males who were aged between 17 – 70 years, self-selected to participate, and were deemed ‘at risk’ of pregnancy. Results demonstrated the most consistent demographic predictor of contraceptive variation was age. Contraceptive use was more common among older participants. Younger participants were more likely to use barrier and short-term methods of contraception compared to older participants who were more likely to have selected permanent methods. Relationship status also displayed some predictive utility. Participants in shorter-term or less serious relationships were more likely to use barrier methods, with a trend toward permanent method use in more serious longer-term relationships. Variation in relation to participant’s sex indicated males were more likely to report condom or permanent method use. Findings suggested variation in relation to location; compared with OCP users, MT and permanent method users were more likely to reside in rural areas. Socioeconomic, cultural, and religious affiliation variables failed to reliably predict variation in method choice.

Sexual behaviour, risk, and attitude variables were less consistent predictors of contraceptive use. Participants using highly effective methods reported lower perceived risk of pregnancy. The use of MT hormonal and permanent methods was more evident among participants who had previously had an abortion. There was no variation in terms of perceived risk of STI, history of STI, or type of STI. Condom use was more likely among participants who had never been STI tested and those in concurrent relationships. There was little variation on the basis of number of sex partners or frequency of intercourse. Users of different methods varied in the emphasis they placed on various reasons for use. Condom users placed less emphasis on family planning factors compared to hormonal method users who placed more importance on external influences, for example, medical professionals. Cultural or religious influences had minimal influence on contraceptive choice. Contraceptive users accessed a range of information sources including partners/friends, medical professionals, and the Internet. Popular information sources were not always perceived as highly reliable. Hormonal contraceptive users reported the highest incidences of both side effects and non-contraceptive benefits. Side effect distress was the strongest predictor of satisfaction and likelihood of continuation among female hormonal contraceptive method users. Contraceptive consultation factors also predicted satisfaction and continuation, but to a lesser extent.

The implications of these outcomes are discussed in relation to previous contraceptive and sexual behaviour research, health behaviour theory and model building, health information provision and public health campaigns, health provider practice, and policy.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) Contraception
safer sex
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Created: Tue, 17 Dec 2013, 09:02:13 EST by Brett Fenton
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