The influence of personal characteristics, attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control, and recent past behavior as predictors of university students’ intention to utilize emergency contraception
Griggs, Scott Karr
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The purpose of this study was to use the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to predict university students’ intention to use emergency contraception (EC). The study explored the utility of the TPB model constructs (attitude [A], subjective norm [SN], perceived behavioral control [PBC]) as well as recent past behavior (RPB) to predict students’ intention to utilize EC. The study also investigated the significance of demographic and personal characteristics—age and gender in particular—as they relate to the TPB components and RPB. A web-based survey, developed from three structured focus groups, was pretested and emailed to 2,000 university students. An overall usable response rate of 21.0 percent was obtained. In general, university students intended to use EC should the need occur, held favorable attitudes toward the use of EC, were somewhat influenced by social norms regarding EC use, and perceived themselves to have some control over EC utilization. For direct measures (TPB), A, SN, and PBC were significant predictors of intention to use EC. The direct model explained 49.2 percent of the variance in intention. Using indirect measures, A and SN were significant predictors of intention, but PBC was not; the indirect model accounted for 41.3 percent of the variance in intention to take EC. Attitude was the strongest TPB predictor for both models, followed by SN and PBC. The RPB variable did not significantly improve the TPB model. While hypothesized age differences were not significant, gender differences showed female students having a more favorable A and SN as well as a stronger PBC (direct measures) toward the use of EC. In addition, several statistically significant relationships occurred between demographic/personal characteristics and the TPB constructs. In summary, this study identified several key factors that partially explain why university students either intend or do not intend to use EC if needed. The TPB has utility in predicting utilization of EC in university students. Focusing particular attention on A, as well as SN and PBC, will allow researchers, educators, healthcare professionals, and legislators to develop strategies and educational programs to enable men and women to use EC responsibly.