Determining the impact of the Zika pandemic on primary care providers' contraceptive counseling of non-pregnant patients in the US: a mixed methods study

BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 Nov 9;21(1):1215. doi: 10.1186/s12913-021-07170-0.


Background: Global pandemics like Zika (ZIKV) factor into pregnancy planning and avoidance, yet little is known about how primary care providers (PCPs) incorporate public health guidance into contraceptive counseling. Study objectives include: 1) determining the impact of the ZIKV pandemic on contraceptive counseling changes; and 2) assessing PCP knowledge and practice regarding contraception, ZIKV, and CDC ZIKV guidelines.

Methods: Study components included: (1) a retrospective review of electronic health records of non-pregnant, reproductive age women presenting for preventive health visits between 2014 and 2017 assessed using interrupted time series analyses (ITSA) to identify changes in documentation of ZIKV risk assessment and contraceptive counseling; and (2) a sequential, cross-sectional study with quantitative surveys and qualitative, semi-structured interviews of PCPs providing preventive care to non-pregnant patients at eight federally qualified health centers in Utah. We performed descriptive analyses on survey data and analyzed qualitative data for dominant themes using a modified Health Belief Model.

Results: We conducted 6634 chart reviews yielding 9840 visits. The ITSA did not reveal changes in ZIKV risk assessment or contraceptive counseling. Twenty-two out of 40 (55%) eligible providers participated in the provider component. Participants averaged 69 and 81% correct on contraceptive and ZIKV knowledge questions, respectively. Sixty-five percent reported counseling consistent with CDC ZIKV guidelines. Qualitative analysis found providers unlikely to prioritize ZIKV risk assessment in contraceptive counseling for non-pregnant patients.

Conclusions: PCPs who care for non-pregnant women are knowledgeable about contraception and ZIKV; however, there was no change in ZIKV risk assessment or contraceptive counseling. This stresses the importance of developing strategies to improve guideline uptake.

Keywords: Contraception; Counseling; Primary care; Zika virus.

MeSH terms

  • Contraception
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Counseling
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Zika Virus Infection* / epidemiology
  • Zika Virus Infection* / prevention & control
  • Zika Virus*


  • Contraceptive Agents