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Primary care physicians (PCPs) develop long-term relationships with adolescent patients and are trusted resources for reproductive health information. We compared physicians’ perceptions of adolescent patients’ comfort in asking about contraception with adolescents’ self-reported comfort.
Patients aged 13–25 obtaining primary care at a large health system in Los Angeles County who were assigned female at birth completed a survey on their perceived barriers, facilitators, and preferences regarding contraceptive care. Physicians caring for this population completed electronic surveys on their perceived barriers to contraception provision.
Family medicine (FM, n=36), Internal Medicine (IM, n=36), Medicine-Pediatrics (n=23), and Pediatrics (n=17) physicians completed our survey. Most physicians felt their patients aged 12-16 were somewhat or extremely comfortable asking about contraception (Pediatrics 64.7%, 95% CI: 38.3%-85.8%; Medicine-Pediatrics 57.1%, 34.0%-78.2%; FM 60.0%; 40.6%-77.3%). This perceived comfort was higher for ages 17-21 (88.0%, 80.3%- 90.4%) and ages 22-26 (85.3 %, 77.3%-91.4%) with similar breakdowns by specialty. Patients (n=80) reflected a similar trend, with older patients most likely to report feeling somewhat or extremely comfortable discussing contraception with their PCP (ages 13-16: 65.2%, 42.7%-83.6%; ages 17-21: 82.4%, 56.6%-96.2%; ages 22-25: 95.6%, 78.9%-99.9%). Patients additionally reported it was very or extremely important that their PCP initiate the discussion on contraception (ages 13-16: 59.1%, 36.4%-79.3%; ages 17-21: 62.5%, 35.4%-84.8%; ages 22-25: 71.4%, 47.8%-88.7%).
While physicians may correctly perceive adolescent patients’ comfort discussing contraception, most adolescents prefer that their physician raise the topic. This data encourages physicians to initiate reproductive health discussions with their adolescent patients.
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© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.