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2 Minute Medicine | October 31, 2014

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Active-Duty U.S. servicewomen have higher rates of unintended pregnancy

Active-Duty U.S. servicewomen have higher rates of unintended pregnancy
| 2 Minute Medicine
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Feb 2nd – Unintended pregnancy rates among active-duty U.S. servicewomen are higher than in the general population and have increased since 2005.

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    1. Unintended pregnancy rates among active-duty U.S. servicewomen are higher than in the general population and have increased since 2005.

    2. There is an unmet need for improved access to contraception for military women, especially those in active duty.

    This study found that unintended pregnancy rates among active U.S. servicewomen increased from 2005-2008 and further, that age-adjusted rates among military women were 50% higher than in the general population. The findings of this research demonstrate an unmet need for increased access to contraception and female-focused healthcare for women in the military.

    Limitations of this study include the inherent limitations of a self-administered survey, such as non-response and self-selection bias, which could alter the accuracy of results and which could vary by military branch and deployment status. Strengths of this study were large sample size, high (>50%) response rate, and a timely research question. Additionally, this study was the first to include data from all military branches, including actively deployed servicewomen. The results of this study present a significant public health concern that has not been appropriately addressed.

    Click to read the study in Obstetrics & Gynecology

    Click to read an accompanying editorial in Obstetrics & Gynecology

  • Image: PD

    1. Unintended pregnancy rates among active-duty U.S. servicewomen are higher than in the general population and have increased since 2005.

    2. There is an unmet need for improved access to contraception for military women, especially those in active duty.

    This [retrospective cross-sectional] analysis: used data from the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors. Surveys were distributed to 45,800 people total, with a 62.3% response rate, and for the first time were sent to deployed active servicewomen. Of the total survey participants, 7,225 were reproductive-age women (18-44). The primary outcome was self-reported unintended pregnancy in the past 12 months. Results were stratified by standard confounders and compared to results from a previous 2005 study.

    Overall, the self-reported unintended pregnancy rate among active-duty servicewomen increased from a rate of 97 per 1,000 in 2005 to 105 per 1,000 (95% CI 103-106) in 2008. The age-adjusted rate (taking into account the higher proportion of younger women in the military) was 78 per 1,000 (95%CI 77-79), which is 150% that of the general U.S. population. Subgroups with significantly higher rates were younger, less educated, nonwhite, and married/cohabiting, which is similar to the general population. Unintended pregnancy rates were higher among women in the Army, Marines, and Navy as compared with the Air Force. Women who were deployed had similar rates as non-deployed women.

    In sum: This study found that unintended pregnancy rates among active U.S. servicewomen increased from 2005-2008 and further, that age-adjusted rates among military women were 50% higher than in the general population. The findings of this research demonstrate an unmet need for increased access to contraception and female-focused healthcare for women in the military.

    Limitations of this study include the inherent limitations of a self-administered survey, such as non-response and self-selection bias, which could alter the accuracy of results and which could vary by military branch and deployment status. Strengths of this study were large sample size, high (>50%) response rate, and a timely research question. Additionally, this study was the first to include data from all military branches, including actively deployed servicewomen. The results of this study present a significant public health concern that has not been appropriately addressed.

    Click to read the study in Obstetrics & Gynecology

    Click to read an accompanying editorial in Obstetrics & Gynecology

    By Maren Shaprio and Leah Hawkins

    More from this author: Breastfeeding peer counseling does not improve exclusive breastfeeding rates in obese, low-income womenNew worldwide target for reducing preterm births by 2015No cost contraception reduces unintended pregnancies

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