132 Annual Meeting Logo - Go to APHA Meeting Page  
APHA Logo - Go to APHA Home Page

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Contraception or abortion: Inaccurate descriptions of emergency contraception in newspaper articles, 1992-2002

Sandi Pruitt, MPH, Department of Health Promotion/Health Education, University of Texas Houston Health Science Center School of Public Health, P.O. Box 20186, Houston, TX 77225, 832-567-7705, spruitt@sph.uth.tmc.edu and Patricia Dolan Mullen, DrPH, Department of Health Promotion/Health Education, University of Texas Houston Health Science Center School of Public Health, 7000 Fannin UCT 2522, Houston, TX 77030.

Background: Policy debates about the provision of emergency contraception (EC) are ongoing while surveys about EC show that awareness, knowledge, and use of this method are low. Media portrayals of EC may influence public health policy and the publicís acceptance of this reproductive health option. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine how frequently newspaper articles about emergency contraception (EC) incorrectly referred to it as a method of abortion during the period 1992 to 2002. Methods: A content analysis of 1077 articles found in a newspaper database in 113 daily newspapers discussing both EC and abortion was conducted to measure inaccurate descriptions of EC as a method of abortion. Results: Of all articles, 44.5% included at least one instance of confusion between EC and abortion methods. Inaccurate portrayal of ECís mechanism as that of abortion occurred in 31.8% of the sample while 13.1% inappropriately applied terms such as ďabortifacient post-coital contraceptivesĒ when describing EC. Conclusions: In this sample of newspaper articles, errors were prevalent and persisted over time. Inaccurate information as found in this sample may have contributed to the formation of incorrect beliefs about a form of contraception that is used infrequently, despite its potential to deter unintended pregnancy and abortion. Recommendations for public health practice, research, and journalism are provided.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant in this session will be able to

Keywords: Contraception, Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Emergency Contraception: Challenges and Opportunites as Availabitiy Increases

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA