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Open Access Research article

A survey of knowledge, attitudes and practice of emergency contraception among university students in Cameroon

Eugene J Kongnyuy1*, Pius Ngassa2, Nelson Fomulu2, Charles Shey Wiysonge3, Luc Kouam2 and Anderson S Doh2

Author Affiliations

1 Child and Reproductive Health Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde I, Cameroon

3 South African Cochrane Centre, Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2007, 7:7  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-7-7

Published: 17 July 2007

Abstract

Background

Unsafe abortion is a major public health problem in low-and-middle income countries. Young and unmarried women constitute a high risk group for unsafe abortions. It has been estimated that widespread use of emergency contraception may significantly reduce the number of abortion-related morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes and experiences on emergency contraceptive pills by the university students in Cameroon in order to develop and refine a national health programme for reducing unwanted pregnancies and their associated morbidity and mortality.

Methods

A convenient sample of 700 students of the University of Buea (Cameroon) was selected for the study. Data was collected by a self-administered, anonymous and pre-tested questionnaire.

Results

The response rate was 94.9% (664/700). General level of awareness of emergency contraceptive pills was 63.0% (418/664). However, knowledge of the general features of emergency contraceptive pills was low and misinformation was high among these students. Knowledge differed according to the source of information: informal source was associated with misinformation, while medical and informational sources were associated with better knowledge. Although the students generally had positive attitudes regarding emergency contraceptive pills, up to 65.0% (465/664) believed that emergency contraceptive pills were unsafe. Those with adequate knowledge generally showed favourable attitudes with regards to emergency contraceptive pills (Mann-Whitney U = 2592.5, p = 0.000). Forty-nine students (7.4%) had used emergency contraceptive pills themselves or had a partner who had used them.

Conclusion

Awareness of emergency contraception pills by Cameroonian students is low and the method is still underused. Strategies to promote use of emergency contraception should be focused on spreading accurate information through medical and informational sources, which have been found to be reliable and associated with good knowledge on emergency contraceptive pills.