Introduction To estimate the prevalence of use of different sources of contraceptive supplies in Britain and its variation by key demographic and behavioural characteristics.
Methods Cross-sectional probability sample survey of women and men aged 16–74 years, resident in Britain, interviewed between 2010 and 2012. Analyses reported here were of 4571 women and 3142 men aged 16–44 years who reported having vaginal sex in the past year. Those relying exclusively on sterilisation (including hysterectomy) were excluded. Sources of contraceptive supplies were categorised as: general practice, community clinic, retail and other. Prevalence of use of these sources was estimated, and associated factors examined.
Results Some 87.0% of women and 73.8% of men accessed at least one source of contraceptive supplies in the previous year. Most women (59.1%) used general practice and most men (54.6%) used retail outlets. Community clinics were less commonly used, by 23.0% of women and 21.3% of men, but these users were younger and at greater sexual health risk. These associations were also observed among the 27.3% of women and 30.6% of men who used more than one source category (general practice, community clinic or retail) for contraceptive supplies.
Conclusions People in Britain use a variety of sources to obtain contraceptive supplies and some sources are more commonly used by those more vulnerable to poorer sexual health. Our findings suggest that national policy changes to increase access to contraceptive methods have had an effect on the diversity of services used.
- user characteristics
- contraceptive service use
- family planning
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Contributors RSF led on the writing of the paper. RG and KJ conducted the statistical analysis. All other authors (KW, AG, JD, CHM, MP, AMJ, WM) commented on drafts of the paper and were involved in the planning and conduct of the study.
Funding Natsal-3 was supported by grants from the Medical Research Council (G0701757)and the Wellcome Trust (084840), with contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council and Department of Health.
Competing interests AG receives an honorarium from HRPharma. None of the other authors report conflicting interests.
Ethics approval The Natsal-3 study was approved by the Oxfordshire Research Ethics Committee (Reference: 09/H0604/27).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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