Exploring multiple influences on equity: A mixed methods study of low-income women’s access to family planning services in the South
Awarded 2018
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Anna Newton-Levinson, MPH
Emory University

Young women, those of lower socioeconomic status, women of color, as well as women living in Southern states continue to bear the highest burdens of unintended pregnancy in the US. Existing literature indicates that these same populations also have lower rates of contraceptive use, with lower rates often attributed to unequal access to family planning services. Although there is growing identification of barriers to family planning care, much is unknown about how women themselves perceive and prioritize different factors in choosing to seek family planning services in relation to their lived experiences, including how personal factors and women’s social context influence their priorities and decisions in whether and where they seek care. There is also limited understanding of which elements exert most influence on whether family planning care meets women’s needs. Through an exploration of women’s care seeking processes and priorities, the proposed study will move beyond traditional health system approaches to identify other elements that facilitate equitable access to family planning services. Employing a transformative mixed-methods design incorporating life history interviews, this study will examine, in a more holistic way than before, how low-income women in Georgia articulate their priorities with respect to seeking family planning care. The study will investigate how women’s priorities and care seeking processes are influenced by: 1) personal factors, 2) the health care system, and 3) elements of their social context. By identifying multi-level influences on women’s access to family planning services, this research will produce actionable recommendations for increasing equity for public health interventions, clinical care providers, and policy.