Women's preferences for contraceptive counseling and decision making

Contraception. 2013 Aug;88(2):250-6. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2012.10.012. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black People
  • Contraception / adverse effects
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Counseling*
  • Decision Making*
  • Ethnicity
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Social Networking
  • White People