Perceived Barriers to Contraceptive Access and Acceptance Among Reproductive-Aged Women Receiving Opioid Agonist Therapy in Northeast Tennessee

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strong>Objectives: Women with substance use disorders experience unique challenges to contraceptive obtainment and user-dependent method adherence, contributing to higher than average rates of unintended pregnancy. This study estimated the prevalence of barriers to contraception and their associations with contraceptive use and unwanted pregnancies among women receiving opioid agonist therapy (OAT) in northeast Tennessee.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was piloted among female patients aged 18 to 55 years from 2 OAT clinics. Logistic regression was used to evaluate associations between contraceptive barriers and current contraceptive use and previous unwanted pregnancies among women receiving OAT.

Results: Of 91 participants, most experienced previous pregnancies (97.8%), with more than half reporting unwanted pregnancies (52.8%). Although 60% expressed a strong desire to avoid pregnancy, ambivalence toward becoming pregnant was common (30.0%). Most experienced ≥1 barriers to contraceptive use or obtainment (75.8%), the most prevalent being aversion to adverse effects (53.8%), healthcare provider stigmatization (30.7%), scheduled appointment compliance (30.3%), and prohibitive cost (25.0%). Experience of any contraceptive barrier (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 8.64, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.03–36.79) and access to a contraceptive provider (AOR 5.01, 95% CI 1.34–18.77) were positively associated with current use of prescribed contraceptives, whereas prohibitive cost was negatively associated (AOR 0.28, 95% CI 0.08–0.94).

Conclusions: Although most participants desired to avoid pregnancy, ambivalence or uncertainty of pregnancy intention was common. Most experienced barriers to contraception, which were more strongly associated with previous unwanted pregnancy than current contraceptive use. The provision of long-acting reversible contraceptives and contraceptive education at OAT clinics represents an opportunity to reduce the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome.