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Skills for Youth
Accessing Information about Emergency Contraceptive Services
Many pregnancy prevention programs provide youth with important information about a variety of contraceptive methods. One type of contraception that is getting more attention recently is emergency contraception or EC.
Since many young people experience unprotected sex during their adolescence, learning about EC and developing skills to access information and services could have a significant impact on preventing unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, the student skill highlighted here is Accessing Information about Emergency Contraceptive Services. (See the Educator Skill for teaching information about EC.)
Accessing information about emergency contraception involves three steps:
- determining what information youth want to know about emergency contraceptive services
- identifying credible sources of information; and
- reviewing basic communication skills and gathering the information.
Step #1: Determining what youth want to know about emergency contraception
The most effective method for identifying the information youth want to know is to brainstorm with the youth all the possible questions they might ask about EC services. Questions might include:
- What EC services does a specific clinic or doctor provide? (e.g., EC/ Plan B®, oral contraceptive pills, copper-T IUD)
- What is the procedure for getting a prescription for EC? (make an appointment, prescribe over the phone, go to the pharmacy, etc.)
- What are the costs and methods of payment? (credit card, cash, insurance coverage, etc.)
- Can someone get a prescription in advance? (to have before she needs it so she can take it in a timely way)
- What follow-up is needed/required after someone takes the EC?
- Do my parents need to find out?
- Can I get it over the counter?
- How often can I use it?
Step #2: Identifying credible sources of information
Once youth have determined the information they want to know about EC services, they need to identify credible sources for this information. This is a three-step process.
First, youth can generate a list of possible sources. Some examples include:
- The Emergency Contraception Website: www.not-2-late.com
- Their health care provider (clinic or doctor)
- A local family planning clinic
- Planned Parenthood
- The Emergency Contraceptive website at http://ec.princeton.edu/
- The library
- A school-based clinic
- A friend or family member
- Websites listed in the resource section of the Topic in Brief on Emergency Contraception
Second, youth need to determine the criteria for credibility. Credible sources are accurate, up-to-date and trustworthy. Using this criteria, youth should review the list of brainstormed sources and determine which ones are credible. For example, a health care provider would be a credible source whereas a friend may not because he or she doesn't have accurate information.
Finally, youth need to find the phone number, website URL, or address of each resource. Youth can use phone books, the Internet or local resource directories for this information. Addresses and phone numbers for local clinics can be found on the EC website above or by calling the Emergency Contraception Hotline.
Step #3: Reviewing basic communication skills and gathering information
After youth have identified the questions they want to ask and know the possible sources for the information, the last step is to make the phone calls to gather the information. Since youth may not have much practice gathering information in this way, it is helpful to develop some basic guidelines for making these calls. The educator can ask the youth to help develop these guidelines.
Possible guidelines for making calls might include:
- Prepare for the call by writing out your questions ahead of time and having a blank piece of paper on which to write the answers.
- Start the conversation by introducing yourself, stating why you are calling and asking to speak to a staff person who might answer your questions.
- Ask your prepared questions one at a time, taking notes on each answer.
- Thank the person for the information.
Once guidelines have been established, the educator can role play making a call and following the agreed upon guidelines. (See Role Play for Behavioral Practices in Skills for Educators for hints on modeling a skill). After modeling the call, the educator should ask students for feedback on how well the guidelines were followed.
Now youth are ready to practice making a call. Practice can be done in pairs or small groups of three or four. After each practice, youth should receive feedback on how well they followed the guidelines. (See Role Play for Behavioral Practices in Skills for Educators for tips on behavioral practice.)
After several practice calls, youth are ready to find out about local EC services in their area. If phones are available, youth can make calls from the classroom or the educator can make a homework assignment asking youth to call from home, or another safe place, and report their findings back to the class the next day.
Tips for the educator
- Do some research yourself so you know what services and resources are available in your community and online.
- You may need to remind youth of the rules for brainstorming. For example, all ideas are accepted; no judgments are made about whether an idea is good or bad, etc.
- Be sure you notify local clinics in advance that several of your students may be calling them about emergency contraceptive services. You might also ask the clinic the best times for them to receive such calls and pass that information on to your students.
- When helping youth use the phone book, you may need to point out that some clinics may be listed under County or Government Services in the front of the directory.
- Youth might want to prepare a checklist of the "guidelines for making calls" to have with them when they make the call.