Researchers surveyed 1,800 men and women ages 18 to 29 and found that six in 10 underestimated the effectiveness of oral contraception. In addition, about half of men and 69% of women said they are "committed to avoiding pregnancy," but 40% of them said birth control does not matter.
For every correct answer on the survey, a woman's chance of having unprotected sex in the following three months decreased by 9% and the likelihood of her using hormonal or long-acting birth control increased by 17%.
The study indicates that a lack of adequate sex education could be to blame for the knowledge gap, stating, "Programs to increase young adults' knowledge about contraceptive methods and use are urgently needed."
Abstinence-only education has been criticized for providing inaccurate or incomplete information on contraception, including some programs teaching that condoms have a 30% failure rate, oral contraception pills can cause cancer and that pregnancy can result from touching another person's genitals.
HHS recently reinvested in abstinence-only education, and states, including Tennessee, have passed bills to reinforce such programs (Huffington Post, 5/16).