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Pill, patch, or ring? A mixed methods analysis of provider counseling about combined hormonal contraception

In this study we aimed to investigate the content and process of contraceptive counseling surrounding combined hormonal contraceptive (CHC) methods (combined oral contraceptives, the ring, and the patch). We performed a mixed methods analysis of data collected as part of the Patient-Provider Communication about Contraception study, in which reproductive age women and their providers were recruited at several San Francisco Bay Area clinics from 2009-2012. Participants completed pre- and post-visit surveys, and had their visits audio recorded and transcribed. We performed descriptive and bivariate analyses of the entire cohort to examine associations between demographic characteristics and pre-existing method preferences with method selection and counseling content, and coded transcripts of a subset of the sample for salient themes related to content and process of counseling about combined hormonal contraceptive methods using a directed content analysis approach. The overall sample included 342 women, with 152 women (44%) having a preference for a specific CHC prior to their visit, 127 women (37%) had a preference for a non-CHC method, and 63 (18%) having no existing method preference. Of the women who reported preferring a CHC in their pre-visit survey, the majority (72%) chose that method. We found that women were inconsistently counseled about the range of CHC methods. For example, women who had no pre-visit method preference (52%) or who preferred the ring (54%) or the patch (73%) were more likely to receive comprehensive counseling about the three CHC methods than were women who preferred combined oral contraceptives (35%) or non-CHC methods (33%). Providers mentioned the patch the least often, and in qualitative analysis indicated discomfort with prescribing this method. Side effects and benefits of methods, as well as strategies to enhance successful use of the chosen method, were inconsistently discussed. In only 73% of visits in which a woman chose a CHC did the provider assess the patient’s ability to use the chosen method correctly, and in 66% of all visits in which women chose a CHC method, providers discussed what to do if she was dissatisfied with the method. Counseling about combined hormonal contraceptive methods often does not include information about all available methods, or comprehensive information about side effects, benefits, or logistics of use. As this counseling can impact patient’s satisfaction with and continuation of their chosen method of contraception, future work should focus on designing interventions to improve providers’ ability to meet patients’ needs. Short acting hormonal contraception is widely used, but counseling for these methods often neglects key features. Comprehensive counseling about all methods and their individual features can improve contraceptive selection and use.

Authors: Craig AD; Steinauer J; Kuppermann M; Schmittdiel JA; Dehlendorf C

Contraception. 2019 02;99(2):104-110. Epub 2018-09-15.

PubMed abstract

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