Bourke, Ashling, Kelleher, Caroline, Boduszek, Daniel and Morgan, Karen (2015) Factors associated with crisis pregnancies in Ireland: Findings from three nationally representative sexual health surveys. Reproductive Health, 12 (14). ISSN 1742-4755

Background: Findings on the demographic and sexual health characteristics associated with the experience of a crisis pregnancy is important to inform the public health policy of a country, including Ireland. Findings from other jurisdictions have suggested that certain demographic groups are at risk for unintended pregnancies and the disparity between the groups have been growing in recent years. Ireland is a country which experienced much economic and societal change in the first decade of the 21st century, changes which are likely to have affected demographic variables pertaining to sexual health. The current study had two aims: to investigate changes in the socioeconomic characteristics associated with crisis pregnancies over a seven year period [2003 to 2010], and to investigate the recent [2010] socioeconomic risk factors associated with crisis pregnancies in Ireland.

Methods: The study compared the results from 18-45 year old women using data from three broadly similar nationally representative Irish sexual health surveys carried out in 2003, 2004-2006 and 2010. Chi square analysis compared of the socioeconomic characteristics across the seven year period and found that a higher proportion of women with two or more children and women for whom religion was not important reported a crisis pregnancy in 2010 compared with earlier years. A logistic regression then investigated the sexual health history and socioeconomic factors associated with the experience of a recent crisis pregnancy using the most recent 2010 data.

Results: Receipt of sex education and contraception use at first sex significantly predicted the experiencing of a recent crisis pregnancy. Younger women and those with a lower level of education were more likely to report having experienced a recent crisis pregnancy.

Conclusion: Similar demographic groups are at risk for experiencing a crisis pregnancy in Ireland compared with international research, yet the disparities between demographic groups who have experienced a crisis pregnancy appear to be decreasing rather than increasing over a seven year period. Recommendations are made with regard to the provision of continued sex education throughout the lifespan, particularly for those women who are at an increased risk of experiencing a crisis pregnancy.

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