Authors' Affiliations

Vidiya Sathananthan, Rural Primary Care Track, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Jaqueline Zimmerman, Rural Primary Care Track, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Jacalyn P Gilbert-Green, Department of Family Medicine, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Ivy Click, Department of Family Medicine, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Family Medicine

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Ivy Click

Additional Sponsors

Jacalyn P Gilbert-Green

Type

Oral Competitive

Classification of First Author

Medical Student

Project's Category

Rural Health

Abstract Text

Unintended pregnancy leads to many public health consequences like lower educational attainment and diminished career opportunities, with higher rates of unintended pregnancies occurring in lower income communities and among women with drug addiction. Beyond preventing unintended pregnancies, effective contraception helps prevent poor birth spacing, thereby reducing the risk of both premature and low-weight births and maternal mortality and morbidity during the peripartum period. Long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, are considered the birth control of choice for women of reproductive potential as they possess a number of advantages: cost-effectiveness, minimal maintenance for 3 to 10 years, reversibility, and high efficacy and continuation rates. Despite these benefits, LARCs have been widely underused in rural communities as a result of many factors including hospital and gynecology department closures, workforce shortages, provider knowledge, and access to care challenges that arise from complex social determinants of health specific to rural US communities. We therefore investigated the knowledge and current practice of clinical providers regarding LARCs counseling and provision in Hawkins County of Northeast Tennessee. Hawkins County is a primarily rural county with clinics serving a large lower income population with a high prevalence of substance use, therefore making it at risk for higher rates of unintended pregnancies. An online survey was sent to all consenting medical providers (NPs, PAs, and physicians) (n=7) to collect information on their practices related to contraception, including LARCs. Following completion of online surveys, semi-structured interviews (n=2) were planned to qualitatively explore providers’ perspectives. Quantitative analysis of survey data and thematic analysis of interviews were conducted. Analysis of survey data shows that though non-OB/GYN primary care providers reported on being somewhat comfortable to comfortable in their ability to counsel patients on LARCs, they reported low levels of actually counseling on LARCs, compared with oral contraception. Furthermore, the survey data also shows low levels of LARC insertion/removal among non-OB/GYN primary care providers, with most noting preference to refer patients to a private OB/GYN provider within the community or the health department. Additionally, non-OB/GYN primary care providers reported little to no interest in including insertion/removal of LARCs within their scope of practice, citing clinic supply, no time for procedures, and low patient desire as reasons. All providers reported believing that there are little to no barriers to obtaining LARCs by patients within Hawkins County.The semi-structured interviews, including one with the county’s main OB/GYN provider, indicated that though there is access to LARCs within Hawkins County, there may still be multiple barriers including possible poor quality of counseling on LARCs by non-OB/GYN primary care providers and preference for counseling specific populations on LARCs rather than all patients of reproductive potential, both of which may contribute to low patient desire for LARCs. This work is a useful starting place for increasing utilization of LARCs within Hawkins County. By exploring current knowledge and practices of primary care providers, we can better address potential systematic barriers to improve access to and utilization of LARCs in rural communities.

Share

COinS
 

Access to Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives in Northeast TN: A Study of Reproductive Care in Hawkins County, TN

Unintended pregnancy leads to many public health consequences like lower educational attainment and diminished career opportunities, with higher rates of unintended pregnancies occurring in lower income communities and among women with drug addiction. Beyond preventing unintended pregnancies, effective contraception helps prevent poor birth spacing, thereby reducing the risk of both premature and low-weight births and maternal mortality and morbidity during the peripartum period. Long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, are considered the birth control of choice for women of reproductive potential as they possess a number of advantages: cost-effectiveness, minimal maintenance for 3 to 10 years, reversibility, and high efficacy and continuation rates. Despite these benefits, LARCs have been widely underused in rural communities as a result of many factors including hospital and gynecology department closures, workforce shortages, provider knowledge, and access to care challenges that arise from complex social determinants of health specific to rural US communities. We therefore investigated the knowledge and current practice of clinical providers regarding LARCs counseling and provision in Hawkins County of Northeast Tennessee. Hawkins County is a primarily rural county with clinics serving a large lower income population with a high prevalence of substance use, therefore making it at risk for higher rates of unintended pregnancies. An online survey was sent to all consenting medical providers (NPs, PAs, and physicians) (n=7) to collect information on their practices related to contraception, including LARCs. Following completion of online surveys, semi-structured interviews (n=2) were planned to qualitatively explore providers’ perspectives. Quantitative analysis of survey data and thematic analysis of interviews were conducted. Analysis of survey data shows that though non-OB/GYN primary care providers reported on being somewhat comfortable to comfortable in their ability to counsel patients on LARCs, they reported low levels of actually counseling on LARCs, compared with oral contraception. Furthermore, the survey data also shows low levels of LARC insertion/removal among non-OB/GYN primary care providers, with most noting preference to refer patients to a private OB/GYN provider within the community or the health department. Additionally, non-OB/GYN primary care providers reported little to no interest in including insertion/removal of LARCs within their scope of practice, citing clinic supply, no time for procedures, and low patient desire as reasons. All providers reported believing that there are little to no barriers to obtaining LARCs by patients within Hawkins County.The semi-structured interviews, including one with the county’s main OB/GYN provider, indicated that though there is access to LARCs within Hawkins County, there may still be multiple barriers including possible poor quality of counseling on LARCs by non-OB/GYN primary care providers and preference for counseling specific populations on LARCs rather than all patients of reproductive potential, both of which may contribute to low patient desire for LARCs. This work is a useful starting place for increasing utilization of LARCs within Hawkins County. By exploring current knowledge and practices of primary care providers, we can better address potential systematic barriers to improve access to and utilization of LARCs in rural communities.