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Wolgemuth TE, Cuddeback M, Callegari LS, Rodriguez KL, Zhao X, Borrero S. Perceived Barriers and Facilitators to Contraceptive Use Among Women Veterans Accessing the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2020 Jan 1; 30(1):57-63.
BACKGROUND: Although many studies evaluate factors influencing contraceptive use, little is known about barriers and facilitators that may be specific to or prevalent among women veterans using the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System (VA). DESIGN: Semistructured telephone interviews with a national sample of 189 women veterans at risk for unintended pregnancy who receive care in the VA were used to explore barriers and facilitators to contraceptive use as well as elicit suggestions for improving VA contraceptive care. The sample consisted primarily of women with risk factors for adverse reproductive health outcomes, including belonging to ethnic/racial minority groups, having a medical or mental health condition(s), and/or reporting a history of military sexual trauma. Transcript narratives were analyzed using content analysis and the constant comparison method. RESULTS: Five distinct themes emerged as barriers or facilitators to contraceptive use depending on participants'' VA facility and provider, and women offered concrete suggestions to address each barrier. Most participants (56%) noted poor efficiency as a barrier; others (39%) felt hindered by limited contraceptive counseling and patient education. Approximately one-third (34%) noted that low patient awareness of services impeded care and another one-third (32%) stressed poor interaction with providers as a barrier. Finally, 31% noted feeling ostracized at VA, and emphasized fostering a woman-friendly environment to remove discomfort associated with seeking contraceptive care. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that, despite widespread access to low-cost contraception, many women veterans experience barriers to accessing high-quality contraceptive care. These barriers are system and provider specific and warrant further internal evaluation.