Increased 1-year continuation of DMPA among women randomized to self-administration: results from a randomized controlled trial at Planned Parenthood



      Self-administration of subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-sc) is feasible, acceptable, and effective. Our objective was to compare one-year continuation of DMPA-sc between women randomized to self-administration versus clinic administration.

      Study design

      We randomized 401 females ages 15–44 requesting DMPA at clinics in Texas and New Jersey to self-administration or clinic administration in a 1:1 allocation. Clinic staff taught participants randomized to self-administration to self-inject and observed the first injection; participants received instructions, a sharps container, and three doses for home use. Participants randomized to clinic administration received usual care. All participants received DMPA-sc at no cost and injection reminders via text message or email. We conducted follow-up surveys at six and 12 months.


      Three hundred thirty-six participants (84%) completed the 12-month survey; 316 completed both follow-up surveys (an 80% response rate excluding eight withdrawals). Participants ranged in age from 16–44. One-year DMPA continuous use was 69% in the self-administration group and 54% in the clinic group (p=.005). There were three self-reported pregnancies during the study period, all occurred in the clinic group; all three women had discontinued DMPA and one reported her pregnancy as intended.
      Among the self-administration group, 97% reported that self-administration was very or somewhat easy; 87% would recommend self-administration of DMPA-sc to a friend. Among the clinic group, 52% reported interest in self-administration in the future. Satisfaction was similar between groups. No serious adverse events were reported.


      DMPA self-administration improves contraceptive continuation and is a feasible and acceptable option for women and adolescents.


      Self-administration of subcutaneous DMPA can improve contraceptive access, autonomy, and continuation, and is a feasible and acceptable option for women and adolescents. It should be made widely available as an option for women and adolescents.


      DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate), DMPA-IM (intramuscular depot medroxyprogesterone acetate), DMPA-sc (subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate)


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