OBJECTIVE: To estimate unintended pregnancy rates among a representative sample of 7,225 active-duty women in the U.S. military in 2008 and to compare these rates with 2005 and with the U.S. population.
METHODS: Cross-sectional data came from the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors among Active Duty Military Personnel (Health Related Behaviors Survey). For all women and by key subgroups, unintended pregnancy rates per 1,000 women were calculated and compared with rates reported in the 2005 Health Related Behaviors Survey. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression to test for associations between unintended pregnancy and key subgroups was also performed. Finally, an age-standardized unintended pregnancy rate was calculated to adjust for differences in age composition between the military and U.S. populations for better comparison with the general U.S. rate.
RESULTS: Eleven percent of women reported an unintended pregnancy in the prior 12 months. The 2008 self-reported unintended pregnancy rate was 105 per 1,000 women, an increase from 2005 (97/1,000 women). Younger, less educated, nonwhite, and married or cohabitating women had significantly higher rates of unintended pregnancy compared with their counterparts. Rates did not differ between women deployed in the prior 12 months and nondeployed women. The age-standardized rate was 78 per 1,000 women (95% confidence interval 77–79), which is 50% higher than the general U.S. population (52/1,000 women).
CONCLUSION: Unintended pregnancy rates in the military are high and have increased in most key subgroups since the 2005 survey. Efforts are needed to help servicewomen prevent unintended pregnancy, including during deployment.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II
Unintended pregnancy in the military is higher compared with the general U.S. population and increased from 2005 to 2008.
Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California; and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
Corresponding author: Kate Grindlay, MSPH, Ibis Reproductive Health, 17 Dunster Street, Suite 201, Cambridge, MA 02138; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funded by grants from the Wallace A. Gerbode Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The authors thank Bridgit Burns for her assistance with manuscript preparation.
Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.