The family planning attitudes and experiences of low-income women

Fam Plann Perspect. 1996 Nov-Dec;28(6):246-55, 277.


A 1995 telephone survey of 1,852 low-income women aged 18-34 who were sexually active and at risk of unintended pregnancy found that 83% were currently practicing contraception. They were more likely to do so if they held positive attitudes toward contraceptive use, if they talked frequently about intimate matters with their partners and girlfriends and if they were very satisfied with the services they received at their last gynecologic visit. Seventy percent of current users said they were very satisfied with their method. Women whose last visit was to a clinic, who were very satisfied with the care they received and who used the pill or a long-acting method were more likely than others to report being very satisfied with their contraceptive. Women very satisfied with their gynecologic care were more likely to use oral contraceptives and to take them consistently, but were less likely to report that their partner used condoms or, if they did, used them consistently. Most women had made a medical visit for gynecologic or contraceptive care in the past year (86%), and 80% were very satisfied overall with their care at their last visit. Women were more likely to be very satisfied if the staff was courteous, helpful and respectful and made an effort to find out their needs, if their clinician's gender matched their own preference and if the facility was clean and services were organized.

PIP: This study examines low-income women's perceptions about and experiences with methods of contraception and gynecologic services. The study population included a nationally representative sample of 1852 low-income women aged 18-34 years who were interviewed during 1995. 40% had private insurance, 30% had Medicaid or other public insurance, and 30% had no insurance coverage. White women were most likely to have private insurance. 57% were currently married or cohabiting. 9% were separated, widowed, or divorced. 34% had never been married. 15% had no steady partner. 46% had been with their partner for at least 3 years. 48% had had sexual intercourse 2-3 times/week during the previous 3 months; 29% had had sexual intercourse once a week or a few times a month; 20% had had sexual relations less frequently. 68% of cohabiting women and 58% of married women had frequent intercourse. 72% had been pregnant at least once. 32% did not want anymore children. 86% had had a gynecology appointment within the past 5 years, of which 43% had received free services, 32% had paid fully for the visit, and 80% had been satisfied with the care received. 83% were currently using a method. Contraceptive use was related to positive attitudes toward contraception, frequent intimate discussions with the partner or with friends, and satisfaction with services. 70% were satisfied with their current method. Women who used the pill or a long-lasting method were more likely to be satisfied with services. Women who were satisfied with services were more likely to consistently use an oral method, but less likely to report condom use by their partner. Women were more likely to report service satisfaction if the staff was courteous and respectful, if the physician was of the preferred gender, and if facilities were clean. Findings suggest that Black and Hispanic women may expect a lower standard of care. Method choice was related to race.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Contraception / psychology
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection
  • Family Planning Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Poverty
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • United States