New tool brings shared decision-making to contraceptive counseling

Nearly half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and many result from people failing to use contraception correctly or consistently. One way to improve contraceptive use is to help women select contraceptive methods that better accommodate their personal preferences. The Program in Woman-Centered Contraception (PWCC) has designed My Birth Control, a new tool to facilitate women’s contraceptive decision-making.

Screenshot from my My Birth Control tool

Because most contraceptive methods require provider consultation, providers often have significant influence over women’s method selection. Past research has shown that when women feel heard by their provider, they are more satisfied with both the counseling they receive and the method they select. Other health care fields have also reported positive outcomes when providers meaningfully involve patients in care decisions.

My Birth Control helps patients put their needs at the center of contraceptive counseling by clarifying what those needs are and then explicitly outlining them for providers. Prior to a visit, patients use the interactive tool to learn about potential methods and prioritize their needs (such as side effects, ease of use or efficacy). Providers then receive a printout of the tool’s results and use it to guide the counseling conversation.

In a pilot study, 96 percent of patients reported the tool helped them select a method and provided satisfactory information. Although more evaluation is needed, My Birth Control is an exciting step toward empowering women to make fully informed and autonomous decisions about their reproductive lives.