skip to page content
Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Contraceptive adherence among women Veterans with mental illness and substance use disorder.

Callegari LS, Zhao X, Nelson KM, Borrero S. Contraceptive adherence among women Veterans with mental illness and substance use disorder. Contraception. 2015 May 1; 91(5):386-92.

Related HSR&D Project(s)

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


OBJECTIVE: Emerging data suggest that mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD) are important risk factors for inconsistent contraceptive use. We investigated whether mental illness without or with SUD is associated with contraceptive adherence and continuation of hormonal methods among women Veterans. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective analysis of national Veteran''s Administration data among women aged 18-45 with a hormonal contraceptive prescription (pill/patch/ring/injectable) during the first week of fiscal year 2013. We tested associations between mental illness diagnoses (depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, adjustment disorder) without or with SUD diagnoses (drug/alcohol abuse) and 12-month contraceptive adherence (number and length of gaps = 7 days between refills and months of contraceptive coverage) using multivariable regression models. RESULTS: Among 9780 Veterans, 43.6% had mental illness alone, 9.4% comorbid mental illness and SUD, and 47.0% neither diagnosis. In adjusted analyses, compared to women with neither diagnosis, women with mental illness alone had a similar rate of gaps but increased odds of having gaps longer than 30 days [odds ratio (OR): 1.35, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.10-1.52] and fewer months of contraceptive coverage (ß_coefficient: -0.39, 95% CI: -0.56 to -0.23). Women with mental illness and SUD experienced more gaps (incidence rate ratio: 1.12, 95% CI: 1.03-1.21), increased odds of gaps longer than 30 days (OR: 1.46, 95% CI: 1.10-1.79), fewer months of contraceptive coverage (ß_coefficient: -0.90, 95% CI: -1.20 to -0.62) and reduced odds of continuous 12-month coverage (adjusted OR: 0.76, 95% CI: 0.63-0.93). CONCLUSIONS: Mental illness, particularly with comorbid SUD, is associated with reduced contraceptive adherence and continuation among women Veterans. Women with these risk factors could potentially benefit from use of long-acting reversible methods. IMPLICATIONS: Women Veterans have a high burden of mental illness and SUD, which we found are associated with inconsistent contraceptive use. Efforts to improve adherence to hormonal contraceptives and to increase availability of long-acting reversible methods in this vulnerable population are warranted.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.