Current and past depressive symptoms and contraceptive effectiveness level method selected among women seeking reproductive health services

Soc Sci Med. 2018 Oct:214:20-25. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.08.009. Epub 2018 Aug 13.


Rationale: More thoroughly understanding the association between elevated depressive symptoms and effectiveness level of contraceptive method selected at a reproductive health visit could help women prevent unintended pregnancy.

Objective: This study examined how the association between both current and past depressive symptoms and effectiveness level of contraceptive method selected at a clinic visit varies by type of reproductive health visit.

Methods: Current and past depressive symptoms and contraceptive method selected were assessed among 1215 women aged 18-25 years seeking general reproductive health or abortion services at 40 community clinics throughout the United States. Using standard categories of effectiveness based on pregnancy rates during typical use, women's contraceptive method selected was coded as a low (e.g., no method, withdrawal, condoms), moderately (pill, patch, ring, or shot), or highly effective method (IUD, sterilization, implant). Depression status was divided into four categories: 1) no elevated depressive symptoms ever, 2) current elevated depressive symptoms only, 3) past elevated depressive symptoms only, and 4) past and current elevated depressive symptoms. Visit type, general reproductive health versus abortion care, was a moderator. The interaction effect between depressive symptoms and visit type on contraceptive method effectiveness level chosen was estimated with multinomial logistic regression analyses.

Results: In general reproductive health visits, having both elevated current and past depressive symptoms increased women's likelihood of choosing low versus moderately effective methods (RRR = 5.63, 95% CI = 2.31 to 13.71, p < .0005). In contrast, among abortion patients, only current elevated depressive symptoms were associated with choosing high versus moderate effectiveness methods (RRR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.06 to 2.86, p = .029).

Conclusion: Results suggest that considering both women's current and past elevated depressive symptoms and the type of reproductive health visit may assist providers in helping women prevent unintended pregnancy.

Trial registration: NCT01360216.

Keywords: Abortion care and reproductive health services; Contraceptive choice; Current and past depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Contraception / psychology*
  • Contraceptive Effectiveness / statistics & numerical data*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Reproductive Health Services*
  • United States
  • Young Adult

Associated data