Changes in Contraceptive Use in Times of “Pill Scare”: A Comparison Between Belgium, France, and Switzerland
At the end of 2012, a controversy on oral contraceptives’ side-effects on women’s health, called “pill scare”, broke out in the French media and was relayed in the French-speaking media of Belgium and Switzerland. As a result, pill use dropped in France and in Belgium while only a slight decrease was observed in Switzerland. Although in France studies showed a reshaping in social inequalities in access to contraceptives available under prescription following the pill scare, no research has been conducted in Belgium and Switzerland even though access to contraceptive methods differs among these three countries. Moreover, though pill scares regularly occur worldwide since the introduction of the pill in the US in the 1960s, no cross-national comparisons of pill scares’ consequences on contraceptive use exist.
This project focuses on the making of social inequalities in the context of health crisis. In other words, the aim of this research is to understand how recent pill scares in Belgium, France and Switzerland have affected both men and women’s contraceptive practices according to their social background.
First, I will aim to identify how, and to what extent, the media have tackled pill scares and how these controversies spread within the populations. To do so, I will undertake a press review of seven daily newspapers (2 for Belgium, 1 for France and 3 for Switzerland) in order to identify possible variations in the media coverage of the risks associated with the use of the pill in different linguistic and national areas. I will also analyze Internet search trends using Google Trends® in order to estimate the extent to which the media controversies have had a different echo among the population of the three countries. Then, relying on this first work and by using 10 cross-sectional surveys conducted in the three countries, I will compare the changes of contraceptive use in Belgium, France, and Switzerland according to people’s social background. In particular, I will focus on how the changes in contraceptive practices during the pill scares can be defined as a way of “doing gender” or “undoing gender” in various ways according to people’s social backgrounds. My results will allow me to question the particularities of gender structures in the three countries.
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Le Guen Mireille, Rouzaud-Cornabas Mylène, Panjo Henri, Rigal Laurent, Ringa Virginie, Moreau Caroline, for the Health Barometer group 2016, 2020, “The French pill scare and the reshaping of social inequalities in access to medical contraceptives”, SSM - Population Health, 11, p. 100606.
Le Guen Mireille, Marsicano Élise, Bajos Nathalie, Desgrées du Loû Annabel, for the Parcours study group, 2019, “Union break-up after HIV diagnosis among sub-Saharan African migrants in France: disclosing HIV status is linked with staying in union”, AIDS Care, 31(6), pp. 699–706.
Le Guen Mireille, Roux Alexandra, Rouzaud-Cornabas Mylène, Fonquerne Leslie, Thomé Cécile, Ventola Cécile, the Junior Lab Contraception&Genre, 2017, “Fifty years of legal contraception in France: diffusion, medicalization, feminization”, Population and Societies, 549, pp. 1–4.
Le Guen Mireille, Ventola Cécile, Bohet Aline, Moreau Caroline, Bajos Nathalie, 2015, “Men’s contraceptive practices in France: evidence of male involvement in family planning”, Contraception, 92(1), pp. 46–54.
Le Guen Mireille, Bajos Nathalie, 2014, “Adolescent Pregnancy in France”, in Cherry Andrew L., Dillon Mary E. (eds.), International Handbook of Adolescent Pregnancy, Springer US, pp. 293–313.
Bajos Nathalie, Bohet Aline, Le Guen Mireille, Moreau Caroline, 2012, “Contraception in France: new context, new practices?”, Population and Societies, 492, pp. 1–4.
-Contraceptive use among immigrants (TeO2 survey)
-Sexual and reproductive health of racialized women in France: an analysis of access, experiences and resistance from the margins (qualitative survey through TeO2 sample)
-Contraceptive use in the French overseas territories (MFV2 survey)
-Administrative trajectories of migrants in Belgium (data from the Belgian National Register)
-Sexual and reproductive health of students during the Covid-19 lockdown (COCOSSET survey)
-Health of French-speaking sub-Saharan African immigrants: a comparison between Belgium, Canada and France