Financial Instability and Delays in Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Due to COVID-19
Objective: To identify prevalence of, and patient and clinic characteristics associated with, delays in access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care due to the COVID-19 pandemic across three states with varying COVID-19 context and state government response.
Methods: We weighted data collected between May 2020 and May 2021 from monthly and biannual follow-up surveys of patients seeking family planning care at a publicly supported health center in Arizona (N = 538), Iowa (N = 341), and Wisconsin (N = 568), who reported on experiences 6–18 months before the survey. We conducted multivariable logistic regression analyses to identify characteristics associated with delays in accessing SRH care due to COVID-19, with specific attention to associations between patients' financial instability and experiencing delays.
Results: Between May 2020 and May 2021, over half of respondents in Arizona (57%), 38% in Iowa, and 30% in Wisconsin indicated that they were either unable to access or delayed accessing SRH care or a contraceptive method due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Arizona and Wisconsin, in multivariable models, respondents who had experienced financial instability due to being out of work, having fallen behind on key life payments, or because of a job reduction or loss due to COVID-19 had increased odds of experiencing COVID-19-related SRH care delays (Arizona adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.6, p = 0.01 and Wisconsin aOR = 6.0, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Access to contraception was curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for those who experienced employment and financial instability. Individuals' and clinics' ability to mitigate these effects were likely dependent on state context and response to the pandemic, among other factors.