Senior Scholars Program


Pregnancy intentionality in relation to non-planning impulsivity

UMMS Affiliation

School of Medicine; Senior Scholars Program; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Division of Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine

Faculty Advisor

Molly E. Waring, PhD



Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Women's Health


BACKGROUND: Half of US pregnancies are unintended. Understanding risk factors is important for reducing unintended pregnancy rates.

AIM: We examined a novel risk factor for unintended pregnancies, impulsivity. We hypothesized that non-planning impulsivity, but not motor or attentional impulsivity, would be related to pregnancy intention.

METHODS: Pregnant women (N = 116) completed self-report measures during their second or third trimester. Impulsivity was measured using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-15); subscales measured motor, attentional and non-planning impulsivity (subscale range: 5-20). On each subscale, high impulsivity was indicated by a score of ≥11. Pregnancy intention was assessed by asking women whether they were trying to become pregnant at the time of conception (yes or no). Crude and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models estimated the cross-sectional association between impulsivity and unplanned pregnancy.

RESULTS: Thirty-four percent of women reported that their current pregnancy was unplanned, and 32% had high non-planning impulsivity. Fifty-one percent of women with high non-planning impulsivity reported an unplanned pregnancy versus 25% of women with low impulsivity. Women with high non-planning impulsivity had 3.53 times the odds of unplanned pregnancy compared to women with low non-planning impulsivity (adjusted OR =3.53, 95% CI: 1.23-10.14). Neither motor (adjusted OR =0.55, 95% CI: 0.10-2.90) nor attentional (adjusted OR =0.84, 95% CI: 0.25-2.84) impulsivity were related to pregnancy intentionality.

CONCLUSIONS: High non-planning impulsivity may be a risk factor for unplanned pregnancy. Further research should explore whether increasing the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives or integrating if-then planning into contraceptive counseling among women with higher non-planning impulsivity can lower unplanned pregnancy rates.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Godiwala P, Appelhans BM, Moore Simas TA, Xiao RS, Liziewski KE, Pagoto SL, Waring ME. Pregnancy intentionality in relation to non-planning impulsivity. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2016 Jun 20:1-7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27319571. DOI:10.1080/0167482X.2016.1194390. Link to article on publisher's website

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed


Prachi Godiwala participated in this study as a medical student as part of the Senior Scholars research program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


UMCCTS funding, impulsivity, long-active reversible contraceptives, pregnancy intention, unplanned pregnancy

PubMed ID