The extent to which racial and ethnic differences in method choice are associated with financial barriers is unclear. Understanding these associations may provide insight into how to address racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy.
Claims data from the California Family PACT program, which provides free family planning services to low-income residents, were used to determine the proportions of women receiving each type of contraceptive method in 2001–2007. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify associations between women’s race and ethnicity and the primary contraceptive method they received in 2007.
Compared with white women, blacks and Latinas were less likely to receive oral contraceptives (odds ratios, 0.4 and 0.6, respectively) and the contraceptive ring (0.7 and 0.5), and more likely to receive the injectable (1.6 and 1.4) and the patch (1.6 and 2.3). Black women were less likely than whites to receive the IUD (0.5), but more likely to receive barrier methods and emergency contraceptive pills (2.6); associations were similar, though weaker, for Latinas. Racial and ethnic disparities in receipt of effective methods declined between 2001 and 2005, largely because receipt of the patch (which was introduced in 2002) was higher among minority than white women.
Although Family PACT eliminates financial barriers to method choice, the methods women received differed substantially by race and ethnicity in this low-income population. The reduction in racial and ethnic disparities following introduction of the patch suggests that methods with novel characteristics may increase acceptability of contraceptives among minority women.
Christine Dehlendorf is assistant professor, Diana Greene Foster is associate professor, Heike Thiel de Bocanegra is academic coordinator, Claire Brindis and Philip Darney are professors, and Mary Bradsberry is senior statistician—all with the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco.