Pregnancy Intentions, Contraceptive Knowledge And Educational Aspirations Among Community College Students

Marta A. Cabral, Rosalyn Schroeder, Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Alison M. El Ayadi, Aleka L. Gürel, Janet Chang, Cynthia C. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: Community college students, representing more than one-third of U.S. undergraduates, are a diverse population of young people motivated to seek higher education who are at elevated risk of unintended pregnancy. However, it is unknown how well prepared they are to prevent pregnancy and what they think about it in terms of their educational aspirations. METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with 57 students aged 18–25, inclusive of all genders, in three community colleges in California in 2015. Content analysis was used to code data and identify themes. RESULTS: All participants reported strong desires to prevent pregnancy in the next year and perceived their pregnancy risk as low, but many reported unprotected sex with opposite-sex partners. Participants had specific timelines for completing their degrees and believed pregnancy would make that far more challenging, but would not ultimately prevent them from achieving their goals. Female students expressed concern about the risks of exacerbated poverty, housing instability and unachieved career goals. Participants had little knowledge of their pregnancy risks and of the health benefits, side effects or effectiveness of contraceptives. They held negative beliefs about hormonal contraception (including emergency contraception, IUDs and the implant), fearing long-lasting effects and infertility. Gay or bisexual students shared concerns about contraceptives, although several were using methods for noncontraceptive reasons. CONCLUSION: Many community college students not desiring pregnancy have limited awareness of pregnancy risk and prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalPerspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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