Protective Factors, Risk Indicators, and Contraceptive Consistency Among College Women

Leslie F. Morrison, Renee E. Sieving, Sandra L. Pettingell, Wendy L Hellerstedt, Barbara J. McMorris, Linda H Bearinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective To explore risk and protective factors associated with consistent contraceptive use among emerging adult female college students and whether effects of risk indicators were moderated by protective factors. Design Secondary analysis of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health Wave III data. Setting Data collected through in-home interviews in 2001 and 2002. Participants National sample of 18- to 25-year-old women (N = 842) attending 4-year colleges. Methods We examined relationships between protective factors, risk indicators, and consistent contraceptive use. Consistent contraceptive use was defined as use all of the time during intercourse in the past 12 months. Protective factors included external supports of parental closeness and relationship with caring nonparental adult and internal assets of self-esteem, confidence, independence, and life satisfaction. Risk indicators included heavy episodic drinking, marijuana use, and depression symptoms. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to evaluate relationships between protective factors and consistent contraceptive use and between risk indicators and contraceptive use. Results Self-esteem, confidence, independence, and life satisfaction were significantly associated with more consistent contraceptive use. In a final model including all internal assets, life satisfaction was significantly related to consistent contraceptive use. Marijuana use and depression symptoms were significantly associated with less consistent use. With one exception, protective factors did not moderate relationships between risk indicators and consistent use. Conclusion Based on our findings, we suggest that risk and protective factors may have largely independent influences on consistent contraceptive use among college women. A focus on risk and protective factors may improve contraceptive use rates and thereby reduce unintended pregnancy among college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by grant T80-MC00021 E from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Department of Health and Human Services .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 AWHONN, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses


  • contraceptive use
  • emerging adults
  • protective factors
  • risk factors
  • young women


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