May 1997

Knowledge and attitudes about emergency contraception among health workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ngoc NTN, Ellertson C, Surasrang Y, Loc LT. Knowledge and attitudes about emergency contraception among health workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. International Family Planning Perspectives. May 1997; 23(2):68-72

Increased availability of emergency contraception could advance the Vietnamese Government's goal of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. Moreover, these methods are already available in Viet Nam from pharmacists as well as health care providers. A series of focus group discussions and in-depth interviews conducted in 1995-96 with hospital-based family planning workers from Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, revealed widespread support for the concept of emergency contraception, but a lack of accurate information about method use. Emergency contraception was regarded as especially appropriate for rape victims, unmarried adolescents, those not in a permanent union, and perimenopausal women. Providers from eight of the nine hospital sites had heard of or used Postinor (a levonorgestrel-only regimen), while participants at seven sites were familiar with the Yuzpe regimen (ethinyl estradiol and either norgestrel or levonorgestrel) and postcoital insertion of a copper-bearing IUD. Providers typically learned about postcoital methods during medical school or at a continuing education seminar. However, even those aware of emergency contraception had substantial misinformation about dosages, intervals between doses, and the maximum length of time after intercourse that the regimen can be initiated. Moreover, they tended to exaggerate side effects and specify unnecessary contraindications. All participants expressed a need for more comprehensive training. Because these methods are often available from pharmacies, respondents urged that druggists be trained to counsel women about the correct use of emergency contraception and suggested that the regimens be specially packaged with clear, simple instructions.