March 2000

Emergency contraception: A review of the programmatic and social science literature

Ellertson C, Shochet T, Blanchard K, Trussell J. Emergency contraception: A review of the programmatic and social science literature. Contraception. 2000; 61(3):145-186

Many biomedical aspects of emergency contraception have been investigated and documented for >30 years now. A large number of social science questions, however, remain to be answered. In this article, we review the rapidly growing but geographically lopsided literature on this topic. Using computer database searches supplemented by reference reviews and professional correspondence with those active in the field, we gathered literature on the social science and service delivery aspects of emergency contraception published in English up through December 1998, as well as a few unpublished papers from the same time and slightly later, representing regions where published material is practically nonexistent. Methodologically acceptable papers are summarized in our tables and text, and form the basis for suggested improvements in existing emergency contraceptive services. The review also offers ideas for designing new emergency contraception services where they do not yet exist. We conclude by proposing an agenda for further social science research in this area.