Associations Between Perceived Race-based Discrimination and Contraceptive Use Among Women Veterans in the ECUUN Study

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Abstract

Objective:

To describe perceived race-based discrimination in Veterans Affairs (VA) health care settings and assess its associations with contraceptive use among a sample of women Veterans.

Methodology:

This study used data from a national telephone survey of women Veterans aged 18–44 receiving health care in VA who were at risk of unintended pregnancy. Participants were asked about their perceptions of race-based discrimination while seeking VA health care and about their contraceptive use at last heterosexual intercourse. Logistic and multinomial regression analyses were used to examine associations between perceived race-based discrimination with use of prescription contraception.

Results:

In our sample of 1341 women Veterans, 7.9% report perceived race-based discrimination when receiving VA care, with blacks and Hispanics reporting higher levels of perceived discrimination than white women (11.3% and 11.2% vs. 4.4%; P<0.001). In logistic and multinomial regression analyses adjusting for race/ethnicity, age, income, marital status, parity, and insurance, women who perceived race-based discrimination were less likely to use any prescription birth control than women who did not (odds ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.42–1.00), with the largest difference seen in rates of intrauterine device or implant use (odds ratio, 0.40; 95% confidence interval, 0.20–0.79).

Conclusions:

In this national sample of women Veterans, over 10% of racial/ethnic minority women perceived race-based discrimination when receiving care in VA settings, and perceived racial/ethnic discrimination was associated with lower likelihood of prescription contraception use, especially intrauterine devices and implants. VA efforts to enhance respectful interactions may not only improve patient health care experiences, but also represent an opportunity to improve reproductive health outcomes for women Veterans.

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