Context: Few U.S. women use an IUD, despite the method's efficacy and ease of use. While studies have found that misconceptions about IUDs are prevalent, few have examined the influence of women's social networks on perceptions of the method.
Methods: Twenty-four interviews and three focus groups (comprising 14 participants) were conducted in 2013 with a diverse sample of women aged 15-45 recruited from family planning clinics and the community in San Francisco. Half of participants had used IUDs. Women were asked about their social communication concerning contraceptives, particularly IUDs, and about the content of the information they had received or given. Transcripts were analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach to identify themes of interest.
Results: Women reported that communication with female friends and family members was a valued means of obtaining information about contraceptives, and that negative information (which often was incorrect) was more prevalent and memorable than positive information in such communication. Women heard about negative experiences with IUDs from social contacts and television commercials; clinicians were a major source of positive information. Women who had never used IUDs expressed interest in learning about potential side effects and how IUDs feel, while users reported emphasizing to friends and family the method's efficacy and ease of use.
Conclusions: Misinformation and negative information about IUDs are prevalent in social communication, and the information transmitted through social networks differs from the information never-users wish to receive. Findings support the creation of peer-led interventions to encourage IUD users to share positive personal experiences and evidence-based information.
Copyright © 2014 by the Guttmacher Institute.