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The relationship between area deprivation and prescription of long-acting reversible contraception in women of reproductive age in Lothian, Scotland, UK


Background Reducing unplanned pregnancy in Scotland is a key government objective. Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is a cost-effective way to reduce unintended pregnancy. Abortion and teenage pregnancy rates are highest in the most deprived areas. One possible explanation could be contraceptive prescribing inequality. This study examined the relationship between area deprivation measured by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and LARC prescription.

Methods Using Scottish electronic prescribing data from primary care and sexual and reproductive health clinics, this study analysed female Lothian residents with a valid postcode aged 16–49 years who received a contraceptive prescription from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2014. Prescription of LARC (intrauterine, implant or injectable contraceptive) compared with non-LARC (oral pill, patch, ring or diaphragm) was examined. Logistic regression was performed adjusting for age group and prescription location.

Results A total of 90 150 women were included; 21.1% of prescriptions were LARC and 15.3% vLARC (intrauterine method or implant). Women residing in the most deprived quintile (Q1) and prescribed contraception received a significantly higher proportion of LARC than quintiles 2–5 (Q2–5). Odds ratios compared with Q1 were: Q2 0.86, Q3 0.77, Q4 0.59 and Q5 0.51. Women in quintile 1 were also significantly more likely to receive vLARC than quintiles 2–5.

Conclusion Women in the most deprived quintile in Lothian who are prescribed contraception are significantly more likely to receive LARC and vLARC compared with women in less deprived quintiles.

  • long acting reversible contraception
  • hormonal contraception
  • area deprivation
  • epidemiology
  • general practice.

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