Details of Publication 617 for Project A380:

Dixon S, Herbert D, Loxton D & Lucke J. “As many options as there are, there are just not enough for me”: A qualitative analysis of contraceptive use and barriers to access among Australian women. , 2013; : 18,S1:36

Objectives: There is currently little information available about reasons for contraceptive use or non use among young Australian women and the reasons for choosing specifi c types of contraceptive methods. A comprehensive life course perspective of women ’ s experiences in using and obtaining contraceptives is lacking, particularly relating to women ’ s perceived or physical barriers to access. This paper presents an analysis of qualitative data gathered from free-textcomments provided by women born between 1973 and 1978 as part of their participation in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women ’ s Health. Methods: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women ’ s Health is a large cohort study involving over 40,000 women from three age groups (18 to 23, 40 to 45 and 70 to 75) who were selected from the database of Medicare, the Australian universal health insurance system, in 1995. The women have been surveyed every three years about their health by mailed self-report surveys, and more recently online. Written comments from 690 women across fi ve surveys from 1996 (when they were aged 18 to 23 years) to 2009 (aged 31 to 36 years) were examined. Factors relating to contraceptive use and barriers to access were identified and explored using thematic analysis.Results: Side-effects, method satisfaction, family timing, and hormonal balance were relevant to young women using contraception. Most women who commentedabout a specifi c contraceptive method wrote about the oral contraceptive pill. While many women were positive or neutral about their method, noting its convenience or non-contraceptive benefi ts, many others were concerned about adverse effects, affordability, method failure, and lack of choice. Negative experiences with health services, lack of information, and cost were identifi ed as barriers to access. As the cohort aged over time, method choice, changing patterns of use, side-effects, and negative experiences with health services remained important themes.Conclusions: Side-effects, convenience, and family timing play important roles in young Australian women ’ s experiences of contraception and barriers to access.Contrary to assumptions, barriers to contraceptive access continue to be experienced by young women as they move into adulthood. Further research is needed about how to decrease barriers to contraceptive use and minimise negative experiences in order to ensure optimal contraceptive access for Australian women