Geographic Differences in Contraception Provision and Utilization Among Federally Funded Family Planning Clinics in South Carolina and Alabama

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Purpose: Access to the full range of contraceptive options is essential to providing patient-centered reproductive health care. Women living in rural areas often experience more barriers to contraceptive care than women living in urban areas. Therefore, federally funded family planning clinics are important for ensuring women have access to contraceptive care, especially in rural areas. This study examines contraceptive provision, factors supporting contraceptive provision, and contraceptive utilization among federally funded family planning clinics in 2 Southern states. Methods: All health department and Federally Qualified Health Center clinics in Alabama and South Carolina that offer contraceptive services were surveyed in 2017-2018. Based on these surveys, we examined differences between rural and urban clinics in the following areas: clinic characteristics, services offered, staffing, staff training, policies, patient characteristics, contraceptive provision, and contraceptive utilization. Differences were assessed using Chi-square tests of independence for categorical variables and independent t-tests for continuous variables. Findings: Urban clinics had more staff on average than rural clinics, but rural clinics reported greater ease in recruiting and retaining family planning providers. Patient characteristics did not significantly vary between rural and urban clinics. While no significant differences were observed in the provision of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) overall, a greater proportion of patients in urban clinics utilized LARCs. Conclusions: While provision of most contraceptives is similar between rural and urban federally funded family planning clinics, important differences in other factors continue to result in women who receive care in rural clinics being less likely to choose LARC methods.