Utilization of Birth Control Services Among Homeless Women

Published in: American Behavioral Scientist, v. 45, no. 1 Sept. 2001, p. 14-34.

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2001

by Suzanne L. Wenzel, Barbara Leake, Ronald Andersen, Lillian Gelberg

Although homeless women appear to be at notable risk of unintended pregnancy, insufficient attention has been paid to understanding their access to birth control services and the characteristics of homeless women who want birth control services. To address these research gaps, the authors analyzed data from a probability sample of 974 homeless women who were interviewed in shelters and meal programs in Los Angeles County. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that among those women who wanted birth control services during the past year, using these services was associated with fewer perceived barriers to health care, having a regular source of care, consistent use of contraception, and lower odds of alcohol dependence. Availability and cost barriers to birth control services must be reduced, and effective service linkages should be developed among providers of birth control services, substance abuse treatment and primary care.

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