Perceived susceptibility to pregnancy and its association with safer sex, contraceptive adherence and subsequent pregnancy among adolescent and young adult women

Mahbubur Rahman, Abbey B. Berenson, Sandra R. Herrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Background: The study was conducted to examine the hypotheses that adolescent and young adult women who perceived they are susceptible to pregnancy when birth control is not used are less likely to practice unsafe sex, discontinue oral contraception (OC) and become pregnant during a 12-month follow-up period. Study Design: We conducted secondary analyses using data collected for a randomized controlled trial on OC adherence among 1155 low-income women 16-24 years of age. Demographics, lifestyle variables, perceived susceptibility to pregnancy assessed at baseline, and data on OC and condom use and pregnancy status collected during 12 months of follow-up were used for the analyses. Results: Overall, 62.3% of women accurately understood the risks of pregnancy without using any birth control method. However, perceived susceptibility was not associated with OC continuation [odds ratio (OR) 0.94, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.79-1.11], condom use at last sexual intercourse (OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.84-1.24), dual method use (OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.92-1.48) and subsequent pregnancy (hazards ratio 1.08, 95% CI 0.77-1.49) during the 12-month follow-up period. Conclusions: Perceived susceptibility to pregnancy, an important component of the health belief model, does not seem to have any impact on use of birth control methods, safer sex or rate of subsequent pregnancy among low-income adolescent and young adult women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-442
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013



  • Contraceptive adherence
  • Perceived susceptibility to pregnancy
  • Safer sex
  • Young adult women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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