COVID-19 and family planning service delivery: Findings from a survey of U.S. physicians

Lauren B. Zapata, Kathryn M. Curtis, Riley J. Steiner, Jennifer A. Reeves, Antoinette T. Nguyen, Kathryn Miele, Maura K. Whiteman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Equitable access to contraception is critical for reproductive autonomy. Using cross-sectional data from the DocStyles survey administered September–October 2020 (68% response rate), we compared changes in family planning-related clinical services and healthcare delivery strategies before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and assessed service provision issues among 1063 U.S. physicians whose practice provided family planning services just before the pandemic. About one-fifth of those whose practices provided the following services or strategies just before the pandemic discontinued these services during the pandemic: long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) placement (16%); LARC removal (17%); providing or prescribing emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) in advance (18%); and reminding patients about contraception injections or LARC removal or replacement (20%). Many practices not providing the following services or strategies just before the pandemic initiated these services during the pandemic: telehealth for contraception initiation (43%); telehealth for contraception continuation (48%); and renewing contraception prescriptions without requiring an office visit (36%). While a smaller proportion of physicians reported service provision issues in the month before survey completion than at any point during the pandemic, about one-third still reported fewer adult females seeking care (37%) and technical challenges with telehealth (32%). Discontinuation of key family planning services during the COVID-19 pandemic may limit contraception access and impede reproductive autonomy. Implementing healthcare service delivery strategies that reduce the need for in-person visits (e.g., telehealth for contraception, providing or prescribing ECPs in advance) may decrease disruptions in care. Resources exist for public health and clinical efforts to ensure contraception access during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106664
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume150
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Contraception
  • COVID-19
  • Family planning
  • Reproductive health

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