Patient opinions on sexual and reproductive health services in primary care in rural and urban clinics



      Primary care providers are a major source of sexual and reproductive health care in the United States, particularly in rural areas, and not all providers offer the same services. This study aimed to understand patient preferences and expectations around reproductive health services including abortion care in a primary care setting and if those expectations differed by urban or rural setting.

      Study Design

      An anonymous survey was distributed to all patients 18 years or older in 4 primary care clinics in Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming over a 2-week period. The survey asked patients about which reproductive health services should be available in primary care.


      The overall response rate was 69% (745/1086). For all queried reproductive health services except for aspiration abortion, the majority of respondents reported that primary care clinics should have that service available. Forty-two percent of respondents reported that aspiration abortion should be available in primary care. Overall, most respondents reported that medication abortion (58%) and miscarriage management (65%) should be available in primary care. More respondents in urban clinics thought IUD services (84% vs 71%), medication abortion (74% vs 37%), and aspiration abortion (52% vs 28%) should be accessible in primary care compared to those in rural-serving clinics.


      This study of 4 primary care clinics in Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming, spanning urban and rural settings, highlights that most patients desire contraception services and miscarriage management to be available in primary care.


      Increasing training may help meet patient desires for access to reproductive services in primary care, however, further exploration of barriers to this care is warranted. High rates of respondents desiring miscarriage management access highlights the need to train more primary care clinicians to provide full spectrum miscarriage management options.


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