Based on the number of women in the target group, the range of courses offered, and the student health service in the educational institutions, plus the abortion rate, Bodø and Porsgrunn were selected as controls and Tromsø and Hamar as trial municipalities, in which women were offered free hormone-based contraception for one year. Immediately before and after this period, women registered in the educational institutions and/or with a Population Register address in all four municipalities received a written invitation to participate in an interview survey of their contraception habits and history of pregnancies.
Most women aged between 20 and 24 have used hormone-based contraception (92 and 93 percent in 2008 and 2009 respectively); the most frequently employed method was the “Pill”. During the trial period, we found that women in the trial municipalities used all types of hormone-based contraception more regularly than before the trial period. There was also a significant increase in the number of users of hormone spirals and sub-dermal hormone implants in the trial municipalities, but not in the controls. The use of emergency contraception was significantly reduced in the total sample between 2008 and 2009. The abortion rate was significantly reduced in the trial municipalities, but was unchanged in the control municipalities following the period of free distribution of hormone-based prevention.
In the trial municipalities the continuity of use of hormone-based contraception and the number of users of long-term hormone-based contraception increased significantly. There was also a significant reduction in the number of pregnancy terminations in the trial municipalities, but not in the control municipalities.