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Judge-Golden CP, Wolgemuth TE, Zhao X, Mor MK, Borrero S. Agreement between Self-Reported "Ideal" and Currently Used Contraceptive Methods among Women Veterans Using the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2020 Jul 1; 30(4):283-291.
BACKGROUND: Women veterans who use the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System theoretically have access to the full range of contraceptive methods. This study explores match between currently used and self-reported "ideal" methods as a potential marker of contraceptive access and preference matching. METHODS: This mixed methods study uses data from a nationally representative survey of reproductive-aged women veterans who use the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System for primary care, including 979 participants at risk of unintended pregnancy. Women reported all contraceptive methods used in the past month and were asked, "If you could choose any method of contraception or birth control to prevent pregnancy, what would be your ideal choice?" and selected a single "ideal" method. If applicable, participants were additionally asked, "Why aren't you currently using this method of contraception?" We used adjusted logistic regression to identify patient-, provider-, and system-level factors associated with ideal-current method match. We qualitatively analyzed open-ended responses about reasons for ideal method nonuse. RESULTS: Overall, 58% were currently using their ideal method; match was greatest among women selecting an IUD as ideal (73%). Non-White race/ethnicity (adjusted odds ratio, 0.68; 95% confidence interval, 0.52-0.89) and mental illness (adjusted odds ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.52-0.92) were negatively associated with ideal-current match in adjusted analyses; the presence of a gynecologist at the primary care site was associated with an increased odds of match (adjusted odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-1.75). Modifiable barriers to ideal method use were cited by 23% of women, including access issues, cost concerns, and provider-level barriers; 79% of responses included nonmodifiable reasons for mismatch including relationship factors and pregnancy plans incongruent with ideal method use, suggesting limitations of our measure based on differential interpretation of the word "ideal." CONCLUSIONS: Many women veterans are not currently using the contraceptive method they consider ideal. Results emphasize the complexity of contraceptive method selection and of measuring contraceptive preference matching.