Background: Little is known about what women value in their interactions with family planning providers and in decision making about contraception.
Study design: We conducted semistructured interviews with 42 black, white and Latina patients. Transcripts were coded using modified grounded theory.
Results: While women wanted control over the ultimate selection of a method, most also wanted their provider to participate in the decision-making process in a way that emphasized the women's values and preferences. Women desired an intimate, friend-like relationship with their providers and also wanted to receive comprehensive information about options, particularly about side effects. More black and Spanish-speaking Latinas, as compared to whites and English-speaking Latinas, felt that providers should only share their opinion if it is elicited by a patient or if they make their rationale clear to the patient.
Conclusion: While, in the absence of medical contraindications, decision making about contraception has often been conceptualized as a woman's autonomous decision, our data indicate that providers of contraceptive counseling can participate in the decision-making process within limits. Differences in preferences seen by race/ethnicity illustrate one example of the importance of individualizing counseling to match women's preferences.
Keywords: Contraception; Counseling; Patient preferences; Race/ethnicity; Shared decision making.
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