Associations Between Social Determinants of Health and Adolescent Contraceptive Use: An Analysis From the National Survey of Family Growth

Sarah B. Maness, Erika L. Thompson, Yu Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research assessed social determinants of contraceptive use among a nationally representative sample of adolescents. This study analyzed nationally representative, publicly available data from the 2013-2015 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The sample consisted of sexually active males and females between the ages of 15 and 19 (n = 775). Independent variables were social determinant questions asked on the NSFG, selected based on the Healthy People Social Determinants of Health Framework. We tested associations between adolescents' social determinants of health and 2 outcomes, use of any contraceptive at last sex, and effectiveness level of contraceptive method at last sex. Results indicated high contraceptive use at last intercourse (91.5%) and a significant association between any use of contraceptive and family structure (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04-4.03), employment (AOR = 2.00, 95% CI = 1.06-3.77), and education (AOR = 3.43, 95% CI = 1.06-11.13). Few participants reported use of a highly effective method of pregnancy prevention (4.3%). In regression analyses, access to health care (AOR = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.14-0.84) and language and literacy (AOR = 2.92, 95% CI = 1.03-8.26) were found to be associated with using moderately effective contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy compared with not using any method. Although adolescents report overall high rates of contraceptive use, not all contraceptives have the same rates of effectiveness, and adolescents are often choosing those with lower effectiveness. This study found low rates of highly effective contraceptives to prevent pregnancy use (ie, intrauterine device and implant). It is also important to further explore the associations between family structure (measured in this study as intact childhood family) and distal links to contraceptive use. Future research should also further distinguish pathways to adolescent decision-making to use contraceptive methods to protect against STIs and pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
JournalFamily and Community Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Adolescent health
  • Contraceptives
  • Sexual health
  • Social determinants


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