Adherence to hormonal contraception among women veterans: differences by race/ethnicity and contraceptive supply

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The objective of the study was to assess the adherence to hormonal contraception (pill, patch, ring, or injectable) among women veterans and examine the relationships between race/ethnicity and the months of contraceptive supply dispensed with contraceptive adherence.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national databases to examine the adherence to hormonal contraception over 12 months among women aged 18-45 years who had hormonal contraceptive coverage during the first week of fiscal year 2008. We examined several adherence indicators including gaps between refills and months of contraceptive coverage. Descriptive statistics and multivariable models were used to examine the associations between race/ethnicity and contraceptive supply dispensed with adherence.


Our cohort included 6946 women: 47% were white, 6% were Hispanic, 22% were black, and 25% were other race or had missing race information. Most women (83%) received a 3 month supply of contraception at each fill. More than 64% of women had at least 1 gap in coverage of 7 days or longer. Only 22% of women received a full 12 months of contraception without any gaps (perfect adherence). Compared with whites, Hispanics were significantly more likely to experience gaps (64% vs 70%; P = .02), and Hispanics and blacks received fewer months of contraceptive coverage (9.3 vs 8.9 and 9.0, P < .001). Compared with women receiving 3 month supplies, those receiving 1 month supplies had a higher likelihood of a gap (63% vs 72%, P < .001), fewer months of coverage (9.3 vs 6.9, P < .001), and a lower likelihood of perfect adherence (22% vs 11%, P < .001).


Adherence to hormonal contraception among women veterans is poor. Efforts to improve contraceptive adherence and lower risk of unintended pregnancy are needed; dispensing more months of supply for hormonal contraception may be a promising strategy.

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