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Survey: Women, Providers Have Different Priorities When Selecting Contraceptives

Survey: Women, Providers Have Different Priorities When Selecting Contraceptives

June 11, 2014 — Women seeking contraception might not get all the information they value because patients and providers tend to prioritize different issues when discussing birth control, according to a new study published in the journal Contraception, NPR's "Shots" reports.

The online survey of patients and providers found that doctors most highly prioritized discussing effectiveness and guidelines for use, whereas women were mostly concerned about safety, side effects and how the methods work (Singh, "Shots," NPR, 6/10).

Lead author Kyla Donnelly of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science said the "mismatch between what women want to know and what providers want to discuss may be a key factor" in women's struggles to choose a contraceptive method that "fits their unique needs and preferences."

Survey Details

Donnelly and colleagues surveyed 417 women, ages 15 to 45, and 188 U.S. contraceptive care providers from various disciplines. Each group was asked to rate the importance of 34 questions that could be considered when selecting a contraceptive method.

Overall, the average importance of 18 questions was similar for women and providers, while the two groups differed on the importance of 16 questions. The top concern for women was how a birth control method works to prevent pregnancy, while providers' top concern was how often the patient needs to remember to use a method (Cukan, UPI, 6/9).

In addition, 41% of women ranked safety as one of their top-three concerns, compared with 20% of doctors ("Shots," NPR, 6/10). Further, 26% of women considered potential side effects to be one of their top-three questions, compared with 16% of providers (UPI, 6/9).