Contraception. 2016 Jul 1. pii: S0010-7824(15)30190-6.

Access to the copper IUD as post-coital contraception: results from a mystery caller study

Schubert FD, Bishop ES and Gold M

Abstract

Objective: To assess access to the copper IUD as post-coital contraception (PCC) and identify barriers to obtaining this contraceptive method.

Study design: We used a "mystery caller" approach to survey primary care, family planning, and Ob/Gyn clinics in nine U.S. cities, identified via online search. A single researcher called 199 clinics, assuming the role of a patient seeking the copper IUD for PCC. Using a standard script, the researcher collected information regarding access to the copper IUD and respondent's knowledge of the copper IUD's indication for PCC. The primary outcome was availability of the copper IUD as PCC. Secondary outcomes included any provision of the copper IUD, awareness of the copper IUD's indication for use as PCC, and offering accurate information regarding the copper IUD as PCC. Fisher's exact test was used to compare outcomes by clinic type.

Results: Two thirds (68%) of primary care clinics, 87% of family planning clinics, and all Ob/Gyn clinics offered the copper IUD (p<0.001). Only 11% of primary care clinics, however, were aware of the copper IUD's use as PCC, as compared with 63% of family planning clinics and 24% of Ob/Gyn clinics (p<0.001). Few primary care or Ob/Gyn clinics offered the copper IUD as PCC, while 49% of family planning clinics did so (p<0.001).

Conclusion: Access to the copper IUD as PCC is limited and varies by clinic type. Knowledge gaps exist regarding the use of the copper IUD as PCC, as well as regarding the general medical guidelines for copper IUD placement.

Implications: A majority of primary care and Ob/Gyn clinics do not offer the copper IUD as PCC, and only about half of family planning clinics do so. Barriers included lack of knowledge, unavailability of device, unavailability of an appointment with a trained provider, and outdated IUD provision protocols.

Comment: We know that a copper-IUD is a good, safe and effective method of emergency contraception. Still apparently many providers are not familiar with it, or do not want to provide it. More and better training is needed. (HMV)