The impact of race and ethnicity on receipt of family planning services in the United States

J Womens Health (Larchmt). Jan-Feb 2009;18(1):91-6. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2008.0976.


Objective: This study sought to examine the independent effect of patient race or ethnicity on the use of family planning services and on the likelihood of receiving counseling for sterilization and other birth control methods.

Methods: This study used national, cross-sectional data collected by the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). Our analysis included women aged 18-44 years who had heterosexual intercourse within the past 12 months, who were not actively seeking to get pregnant, and who had not undergone surgical sterilization. The primary outcome was receipt of family planning services within the past 12 months. Specific services we examined were (1) provision of or prescription for a method of birth control, (2) checkup related to using birth control, (3) counseling about sterilization, and (4) counseling about birth control.

Results: Although we found no racial/ethnic differences in the overall use of family planning services, there were racial/ethnic differences in the specific type of service received. Hispanic and black women were more likely than white women to receive counseling for birth control (adjusted OR 1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2, 1.8, and adjusted OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1, 1.7, respectively). Hispanic women were more likely than white women to report having been counseled about sterilization (adjusted OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0, 2.3).

Conclusions: Minority women were more likely to receive counseling about sterilization and other birth control methods. However, there were no differences in access to family planning services by race or ethnicity. Future studies are needed to examine the quality and content of contraceptive counseling received by minority compared with nonminority women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans* / psychology
  • African Americans* / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraception / methods
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / therapeutic use
  • Counseling / methods
  • Counseling / standards*
  • Counseling / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group* / psychology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group* / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Planning Services / methods
  • Family Planning Services / standards*
  • Family Planning Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Hispanic Americans* / psychology
  • Hispanic Americans* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sterilization, Reproductive / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female