“As many options as there are, there are just not enough for me” : a qualitative analysis of contraceptive use and barriers to access among Australian women

Sixon, Suzanne, Herbert, Danielle L., Loxton, Deborah, & Lucke, Jayne C. (2013) “As many options as there are, there are just not enough for me” : a qualitative analysis of contraceptive use and barriers to access among Australian women. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 18(S1), S136.

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There is currently little information available about reasons for contraceptive use or non-use among young Australian women and the reasons for choosing specific types of contraceptive methods. A comprehensive life course perspective of women's experiences in using and obtaining contraceptives is lacking, particularly relating to women's perceived or physical barriers to access. This paper presents an analysis of qualitative data gathered from free-text comments provided by women born between 1973 and 1978 as part of their participation in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health is a large cohort study involving over 40,000 women from three age groups (aged 18-23, aged 40-45 and aged 70-75) who were selected from the database of Medicare the Australian universal health insurance system in 1995. The women have been surveyed every 3 years about their health by mailed self-report surveys, and more recently online. Written comments from 690 women across five surveys from 1996 (when they were aged 18-23 years) to 2009 (aged 31-36 years) were examined. Factors relating to contraceptive use and barriers to access were identified and explored using thematic analysis.

Side-effects, method satisfaction, family timing, and hormonal balance were relevant to young women using contraception. Most women who commented about a specific contraceptive method wrote about the oral contraceptive pill. While many women were positive or neutral about their method, noting its convenience or non-contraceptive benefits, many others were concerned about adverse effects, affordability, method failure, and lack of choice. Negative experiences with health services, lack of information, and cost were identified as barriers to access. As the cohort aged over time, method choice, changing patterns of use, side-effects, and negative experiences with health services remained important themes.

Side-effects, convenience, and family timing play important roles in young Australian women's experiences of contraception and barriers to access. Contrary to assumptions, barriers to contraceptive access continue to be experienced by young women as they move into adulthood. Further research is needed about how to decrease barriers to contraceptive use and minimise negative experiences in order to ensure optimal contraceptive access for Australian women.

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ID Code: 60153
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1362-5187
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 21 May 2013 23:26
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2013 02:31

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