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June 10. 2014 8:17PM

Dartmouth study says women and doctors differ on what's important when discussing contraception

LEBANON — Women and doctors differ on what’s important when choosing a contraception method, according to a Dartmouth College study published in the recent issue of the journal Contraception.

“Most of the information women receive about contraceptives focuses heavily on the effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, but this information was ranked fifth in importance by women,” according to the study conducted by researchers at Dartmouth College.

Kyla Donnelly, of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice in Lebanon, said Tuesday that the study was prompted by the Affordable Care Act, which has given more women access to a full range of contraceptive methods and counseling.

Shared decision-making between patient and physician and decision support tools in health care are also promoted in the ACA, Donnelly said, and have long been a focus at Dartmouth.

Researchers at Dartmouth are developing briefing tools, called Option Grids™, to bridge the conversation between women and health care providers when talking about contraceptives.Researchers conducted an online survey of 417 women, ages 15 to 45, and 188 contraceptive care providers in the United States. Both groups were asked what matters most when deciding on a contraceptive method and were asked to rate the importance of 34 questions.The researchers found several differences in responses between the two groups. Women said their primary question was about the safety of the contraceptive method. Providers said the number one question would relate to how the method is used.Information about side effects was also more important to women than providers. In fact, questions about side effects were in the top three questions for 26 percent of women surveyed compared to 16 percent of providers.Donnelly said the Option Grid is being designed to be a conversation tool between health care providers and women, allowing women to feel comfortable to raise their concerns, while also putting the most up-to-date information at the fingertips of the doctors. The Option Grid is being designed to include more than 20 contraceptive options from short- to long-term, to permanent, emergency and natural.“The tool is really a support, to support both provider and patient. Giving the patient permission to ask those questions and helping the provider to answer them,” Donnelly said.

Every patient is an individual with individual priorities, understanding those priorities will help health care providers recommend the best option for their patients, she said.

The Option Grid is being developed over the next few months and will be pilot tested before being widely distributed, Donnelly said.

mpierce@newstote.com


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