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U.S. physicians’ perspectives on the complexities and challenges of permanent contraception provision

      Abstract

      Objectives

      Evidence shows many misconceptions exist around permanent contraception, and there are numerous barriers to accessing the procedure. This qualitative study explored physician perspectives regarding patients’ informational and decision-support needs, the complexities and challenges of counseling and access, and how these factors may differ for people living on lower incomes.

      Study design

      We conducted 15 semistructured, telephone interviews with obstetrician-gynecologists in three geographic regions of the United States to explore their perspectives on providing permanent contraception counseling and care. We analyzed the interviews using content analysis.

      Results

      Physicians discussed a tension between respecting individual reproductive autonomy and concern for future regret; they wanted to support patients’ desire for permanent contraception but were frequently concerned patients did not have the information they needed or the foresight to make high-quality decisions. Physicians also identified barriers to counseling including lack of time, lack of continuity over the course of prenatal care, and baseline misinformation among patients. Physicians identified additional barriers in providing a postpartum procedure even after thedecision was made including lack of personnel and operating room availability. Finally, physicians felt that people living on lower incomes faced more challenges in access primarily due to the sterilization consent regulations required by Medicaid.

      Conclusions

      Physicians report numerous challenges surrounding permanent contraception provision and access. Strategies are needed to support physicians and patients to enhance high-quality, patient-centered sterilization decision making and ensure that patients are able to access a permanent contraceptive procedure when desired.

      Implications

      This qualitative study demonstrates the various challenges faced by physicians to support permanent contraception decision making. These challenges may limit patients’ access to the care they desire. This study supports the need to transform care delivery models and improve the federal sterilization policy to ensure equitable patient-centered access to desired permanent contraception.

      Disclaimer

      Although the term permanent contraception has increasingly replaced the word sterilization in clinical settings, we use sterilization in some places throughout this paper as that was the standard terminology at the time the interviews were conducted and the language the interviewed physicians used.

      Keywords

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