Higgins publishes in American Journal of Public Health

Tags: jhiggins, reproductive and population health, research, publication

Jenny Higgins, PhD, of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Reproductive and Population Health, published the article “Sexual Minority Women and Contraceptive Use: Complex Pathways Between Sexual Orientation and Health Outcomes” in the American Journal of Public Health.

Higgins’ study used a series of focus groups and interviews with young, sexual minority women (women who identify as queer, bisexual, lesbian, pansexual) about the barriers and facilitators to their contraceptive use, including health care system barriers, identity issues, and trauma.

“Compared with their heterosexual peers, sexual minority women (SMW; e.g., queer, bisexual, lesbian, pansexual) have an elevated risk for unintended pregnancy.

A team of social science and clinical researchers qualitatively documented the multilevel pathways leading to this disparity, particularly the contexts of contraceptive use. From August 2017 to April 2018, we conducted focus groups and interviews with young adult cisgender SMW in 3 cities: Chicago, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Most participants reported experience with both penile–vaginal intercourse and contraception. However, they faced several queer-specific barriers to preventing unwanted pregnancy, including a comparative lack of self-concept as contraceptive users, fear of stigma from both queer and health care communities, use of less-effective methods because of infrequent penile–vaginal intercourse and a sense that longer-acting methods were “overkill,” and previous experiences of discrimination such as homophobia and gender-based violence. However, participants also reported ways that contraception could align with queer identity, including both taking advantage of noncontraceptive benefits and framing contraception as sex- and queer-positive. These facilitators can inform future efforts to help SMW better meet their pregnancy prevention needs.”

Read the whole study here. Congratulations, Dr. Higgins!