Family planning providers use long acting contraception more than general population

1. Family planning providers were nearly four times more likely to use long-acting reversible contraception than women in the general population.

2. Providers were more likely to use intrauterine contraception, the vaginal ring and implants and less likely to use female sterilization and condoms.

Evidence Rating Level: 3 (Average)       

Study Rundown: There are myriad contraceptive options available, and each comes with benefits and drawbacks, so picking the right method can be a difficult choice. Research suggests that patients find it helpful to know what method their provider uses, but concerns arise among providers that revealing personal choices crosses the patient-provider boundary. The question of what methods of birth control women’s health providers prefer has been answered before, but since the publication of these studies new contraceptive methods have become available—like the vaginal ring, patch and two hormonal IUDs—and research into the efficacy and safety of LARCs have been broadcast more widely. In this study, researchers updated the answer to this question by comparing a survey of family planning providers with the results of the National Survey of Family Growth.

Findings demonstrate that family planning providers were nearly four times as likely to use long-acting reversible contraception than the general public. Providers were also more likely to use intrauterine contraception (IUDs), the vaginal ring and subdermal hormonal implants, but less likely to use female sterilization and condoms. Researchers say that these findings may help providers better educate patients on the benefits of LARCs without having to reveal personal information to patients. A strength of this study is that the survey focused on family planning providers, who are experts in this field and arguably the best role models for contraceptive use. These findings are not without limitations—notably, the voluntary survey design allows for recall and selection biases. Future surveys that are able to assess a wider, more nationally representative group of family planning providers will further add to our current understanding of contraception preferences.

Click to read the study in Contraception

Relevant Reading: Women’s preferences for contraceptive counseling and decision making

In-Depth [survey]: A convenience sample of 488 female family planning providers ages 25-44 participated in an anonymous online survey from April-May 2013 regarding their contraceptive choices, 67.8 percent of whom were currently using contraception. Results were compared to female respondents from the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth.

Family planning providers were more likely to use long-acting reversible contraception than the general population (41.7% vs. 12.0%, p<0.001). Providers were more likely to use intrauterine contraception, an implant and the vaginal ring and less likely to use female sterilization and condoms. There were no significant differences in the use of partner vasectomy or the use of oral contraceptives. Results remained consistent when stratified by potential confounders, including race and education level.

Image: PD

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