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Bringing patients’ social context into the examination room: an investigation of the discussion of social influence during contraceptive counseling

Although social networks are an increasingly recognized influence on contraceptive use, little is known about if and how social influences are discussed during women’s contraceptive counseling visits. We performed a mixed-methods analysis of audio recordings of contraceptive counseling visits. We examined predictors of discussion of social influence arising in a contraceptive counseling visit and analyzed the content and process of social influence discussions. Social influences were mentioned in 42% of the 342 visits included in the sample, with these discussions most commonly initiated by patients. Younger patients were more likely to have social influence mentioned than older patients. The content of social influence focused on side effects and adverse events, with the sources of influence being predominantly patients’ friends and the media, with little input from partners. Providers were more likely to engage around the content of the social influence than the social influence itself. The frequency with which social influence was mentioned in these visits supports the importance of women’s social context on their contraceptive decision making. However, the fact that patients initiated the discussion in the majority of cases suggests that providers may not recognize the relevance of these influences or may not be comfortable engaging with them. Increasing providers’ ability to elicit and engage patients about their social context with regard to contraception could enhance providers’ ability to understand women’s contraceptive preferences and provide appropriate counseling to address their specific concerns or questions.

Authors: Levy K; Minnis AM; Lahiff M; Schmittdiel J; Dehlendorf C

Womens Health Issues. 2015 Jan-Feb;25(1):13-21. Epub 2014-12-07.

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