Attitudes Surrounding Contraceptive Responsibility: Do Latino Youth Differ from Other Groups?
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Recent estimates demonstrate that more than 75% of young women and men ages 15 to 19 used contraception at first sex and their most recent intercourse. However, there are notable disparities in contraceptive use by race/ethnicity. Female and male Latino adolescents are less likely than African American and white teens to report contraceptive use at first sex. In addition, Latino adolescents are less likely to report using condoms at last intercourse (54.9%) compared to African Americans (62.4%) and whites (63.3%) and were also less likely than whites to state they used hormonal methods (14.0% compared to 29.3% among whites). These lower rates of contraceptive use may be due, in part, to differences in attitudes about contraceptive decision-making. Several studies have noted that Latinos report that women are primarily responsible for contraception and preventing pregnancy, which is associated with less effective method use compared to when both partners are responsible for deciding on contraception. However, it is not clear whether attitudes placing responsibility for contraceptive use on women are more widely endorsed among Latinos compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Some of these studies have only included Latinos, and others that assessed attitudes across racial/ethnic groups found few differences. Additionally, little is known about the underlying beliefs and values that shape ideas about which partner or partners have responsibility for contraception and how these might vary by race/ethnicity. Such information is important in order to identify target areas for interventions that promote shared decision-making, and therefore increase effective use of contraception. In this study, we explore youths’ attitudes toward contraceptive responsibility. The specific questions we address are: Which partner is usually responsible for contraception and why? How do these attitudes and beliefs vary, if at all, across racial/ethnic groups and gender? To answer these questions we used data collected from focus groups with Latino, African American and white young women and men. Focus groups are particularly well-suited for the study of this topic because they highlight values and norms within groups sharing similar characteristics, as well as identify beliefs underlying attitudes and behaviors.