Florida Public Health Review


Kara McGinnis

Publication Date

February 2011


Unwanted pregnancies burden the U.S. healthcare system, as well as create challenges for women, families, and children. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) can prevent a large percentage of unwanted pregnancies if used appropriately. Factors contributing to non-use of ECPs include the negative social environment created by views on sexual health, misunderstanding concerning the mechanism ofaction, women’s misperceptions oftheir risks ofgetting pregnant and how ECPs work, barriers to obtaining ECPs, and lack of counseling about ECPs from healthcare providers. Leadership is needed to address these factors contributing to the problem. Health educators are in a unique position to lead the field in preventing unintended pregnancies through increasing the use ofECPs, because oftheir expertise in education, health literacy, and sexual health. Following the five leadership practices ofKouzes and Posner can guide health educators to improve the situation ofunwanted pregnancies at the local level.