Decisional conflict associated with clinicians discouraging particular contraceptive methods

Rachel L. Grant, Rachel Paul, Carley Zeal, Tessa Madden, Mary C. Politi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale, aims, and objectives: Approximately 45% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. The use of contraception reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy. The initiation of several contraceptive methods requires seeing a clinician. This study explored how clinicians' expressed preferences against particular contraceptive methods impacted participants' confidence in their method choice and perception of shared contraceptive decision making. Methods: Eligible individuals were 18 to 45 years of age, assigned female sex at birth, English speaking, and either using or had previously used contraception. Participants completed an anonymous survey via web link on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Primary self-reported outcomes were (a) proportion of participants being discouraged from a particular contraceptive method, (b) decisional conflict, and (c) extent of shared decision making. Secondary self-reported outcomes were (a) importance of contraceptive attributes and (b) self-reported quality of care. Results: Six hundred sixty-nine participants completed the survey. Most were white (74.0%), non-Hispanic (84.5%), married or cohabitating (69.4%), and nulliparous (47.2%). A total of 33.8% reported that a clinician had discouraged them from using a particular contraceptive method, most commonly because of side effects, usability, and/or method effectiveness. Effectiveness, affordability, and side effects were the self-reported most important contraceptive features. Those who were discouraged from using a method (versus those who were not) were more likely to report decisional conflict (41.2% vs 30.0%, P =.004), yet reported a higher extent of shared decision making (median: 76 vs 71; P =.03). Adjusting for age and nulliparity did not impact results, except nulliparity made the relationship between being discouraged from using a method and shared decision making no longer significant (P =.06). Conclusions: Decisional conflict might arise when clinicians discourage individuals using particular contraceptive methods. Clinicians' reasons for discouraging methods might not always align with patients' preferences. More research is needed to examine how to reduce decisional conflict and support contraceptive method selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1612-1619
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • choice behaviour
  • contraception
  • decision making
  • health personnel
  • pregnancy, unplanned

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