Publicly funded family planning programs help increase access to contraceptive services

High-quality family planning services provide clients with access to a wide range of contraceptive options, allowing them to choose methods that best fit their needs and preferences. In a new publication in the Journal of Women's Health, Heike Thiel de Bocanegra and colleagues with the UCSF Bixby Center explored whether public funding for family planning programs helped providers offer a broader range of contraceptives, including those requiring specialized skills such as intrauterine contraceptives, implants, vasectomies and fertility-awareness methods.

The researchers looked at programs in California that provide public funding for family planning services, including the federal Title X Family Planning program. Title X provides reproductive healthcare to low-income women and men.

Researchers found that significantly more Title X-funded providers offered methods that require special training compared to providers without Title X funding. These findings show that public funding for contraceptive care is associated with higher quality care that reduces barriers to access by offering a variety of methods onsite. Having to go elsewhere to obtain a preferred method can lead to lack of follow-through or the receipt of a less appropriate method. Extra funding for programs such as Title X can help improve onsite access to a full range of contraceptive services.