School-based health centers in Seattle overcame billing, provider training and other barriers to successfully provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) for teens who most likely would not have had access to these methods anywhere else. Those were findings from a recent study from the University of Washington School of Public Health published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
[Photo: Ms. Kelly Gilmore]
The study set out to identify barriers and success factors for a program – one of the first in the country – to provide contraception methods such as IUDs and arm implants for teens in a school-based health center. Long-acting birth control methods are 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy than the most popular methods such as the pill, researchers say. More than 80 percent of teen pregnancies in the United States are unintentional.
Lead author Ms. Kelly Gilmore, who conducted the research while a graduate student, and colleagues retrospectively examined a grant-funded provider intervention that rolled out to three high schools in Seattle. The program was administered by Neighborcare Health, which runs medical and dental clinics for low-income and uninsured families.
Among the positives, all participant groups found that proactive engagement of parents, school officials, teachers and teens was helpful in establishing buy-in for the contraception program. Clear communication strategies linking teen pregnancy to school dropout rates also helped promote the program.
Among barriers to providing long-acting reversible contraception:
Researchers found that supportive, thorough training that addressed provider skills and concerns while combating myths and misinformation was hugely important to getting the program off the ground. “If the providers aren’t on board, the teens are not going to be offered these methods, and they will never have the opportunity to decide if a LARC is right for them,” Ms. Gilmore said.
Since the program began in 2009, more than 400 long-acting contraceptives have been inserted at Neighborcare Health school-based health centers.