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Does the provision of free intrauterine contraception reduce pregnancy rates among uninsured low-income women? A cohort study a two North Carolina clinics
Nicole Fanarjian; Christina Drostin; Joanne Garrett; Arlin Montalvo (Profiled Author: Joanne M Garrett)
Background: Low-income women are disproportionately affected by unintended pregnancy. The Access to Resources in Contraceptive Health Foundation was established to provide free levonorgestrel intrauterine contraceptive systems to uninsured women who meet specific socioeconomic eligibility criteria. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of this program at reducing pregnancies among uninsured women attending two North Carolina clinics. Study Design: This was a retrospective cohort study including uninsured women (aged 15-44 years) who desired contraception, were deemed eligible for the program and attended one of two North Carolina clinics between January 1, 2003, and June 30, 2009. The primary outcome was pregnancy. Pregnancy rates were compared between those women who had a program-approved intrauterine device placed (exposed group) and those women who were eligible for the program, but did not have a device placed (the unexposed group). Questionnaires were used to determine the numbers of pregnancies (and dates of conception), the types of alternative contraception being used and basic demographic information about program participants. The data were analyzed using survival analysis of time to pregnancy. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate a hazard ratio. Results: We attempted to reach 321 patients and obtained 104 responses. After exclusions, data from 90 participants were analyzed. Sixty-five women received a levonorgestrel device, and 25 eligible women did not. Seven pregnancies occurred in the exposed group (11%), all after the IUD was removed; three of these pregnancies were planned. Eight pregnancies occurred in the unexposed group (32%). The median follow-up time was 2.4 years (range: 0.75-4 years) and 1.8 years (0.05-4 years) in the exposed and unexposed groups, respectively. Conclusions: Provision of a levonorgestrel-releasing device was associated with significantly lower risk of pregnancy than was use of alternative or no contraception. If these data from North Carolina are representative of experience nationwide, then the public health benefit of the Foundation's philanthropy may be large. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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