Accessibility of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)

Contraception. 2014 Feb;89(2):91-6. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2013.09.014. Epub 2013 Oct 1.


Objective(s): This study examines the on-site availability of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods, defined here as intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants, at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). We also describe factors associated with on-site availability and specific challenges and barriers to providing on-site access to LARC as reported by FQHCs.

Study design: An original survey of 423 FQHC organizations was fielded in 2011.

Results: Over two thirds of FQHCs offer on-site availability of intrauterine devices yet only 36% of FQHCs report that they offer on-site contraceptive implants. Larger FQHCs and FQHCs receiving Title X Family Planning program funding are more likely to provide on-site access to LARC methods. Other organizational and patient characteristics are associated with the on-site availability of LARC methods, though this relationship varies by the type of method. The most commonly reported barriers to providing on-site access to LARC methods are related to the cost of stocking or supplying the drug and/or device, the perceived lack of staffing and training, and the unique needs of special populations.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that patients seeking care in small FQHC organizations, FQHCs with limited dedicated family planning funding and FQHCs located in rural areas may have fewer choices and limited access to LARC methods on-site.

Implications: Despite the presumed widespread coverage of contraceptives for women as a result of provisions in the Affordable Care Act, there is a limited understanding of how FQHCs may redesign their practices to provide on-site availability of LARC methods. This study sheds light on the current state of practice and challenges related to providing LARC methods in FQHC settings.

Keywords: Community health centers; LARC; Long-acting reversible contraceptives.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities* / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage*
  • Family Planning Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices, Copper* / statistics & numerical data
  • United States


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female