Poor Knowledge Of The Pill Could Be Improved With Education

June 26, 1998

(Effect of educational leaflets and questions on knowledge of contraception in women taking the combined contraceptive pill: randomised controlled trial)

Poor knowledge of taking the pill may be responsible for one in five unwanted pregnancies and so Dr Paul Little et al from primary care facilities in Hampshire investigated whether educational leaflets and/or one-to-one question and answer sessions with GPs could improve knowledge. They found that only 12 per cent of women in their study had a good knowledge of the dos and don'ts concerning their contraceptive pills. They publish their findings in this week's BMJ and conclude that women attending surgeries for check-ups for repeat prescriptions of the pill should be provided with education leaflets on contraception and asked questions to help improve their knowledge. Using leaflets and asking questions may be time consuming, but is the best method of conveying information that is remembered.

The factors associated with pill failure are:- severe diarrhoea; vomiting; missing a pill by twelve hours; starting a packet late and taking some types of antibiotic. If pill failure has occurred, women should continue taking their pill but take extra contraceptive precautions (barrier methods), during pill failure and for seven more days. If a pill has been missed during the past week, the user should run two packets together. If a packet has been started late and sexual intercourse has taken place during the missed week then emergency contraception should be sought.


Dr Paul Little, Wellcome Training Fellow, Primary Medical Care, Faculty of Health Medicine and Biological Sciences, Aldermoor Health Centre, Southampton pmc1@soton.ac.uk


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