200183 Defining physician advocacy for adolescent reproductive health: A national survey

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 1:30 PM

Marianne McPherson, SM, MA , The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Angel M. Foster, DPhil, MD, AM , Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, MA
Elizabeth Goodman, MD , Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA
Background and objectives: Adolescent reproductive health (ARH) policies often impact the practice of adolescent medicine. However, physicians' understanding of their roles as advocates and the extent to which adolescent medicine physicians have a voice in the policy sphere are unclear. This study explores the ways in which adolescent medicine physicians define professional advocacy and reflects on how a wider array of potential advocacy activities relate to ARH policy scenarios.

Methods: In 2008, we invited all U.S. board-certified adolescent medicine physicians (N=521) to complete an online survey. Items include perceptions of and experiences with advocacy, advocacy activities related to four ARH policy scenarios, and demographics. Response rate was 52% (N=273); data were analyzed using SPSS.

Results: Nearly all respondents identified physician advocacy for ARH as important, and over 90% described themselves as advocates. Reported advocacy activities included teaching, producing research, speaking and serving in their communities, and lobbying politicians. The actions physicians would take in response to a particular ARH policy scenario varied by topic as well as by physician characteristics. For example, women reported being more likely than men to oppose a ballot initiative instituting parental notification for abortion. Physicians reported being more inclined to take advocacy action in response to pharmacists refusing to dispense emergency contraception than to an abortion-related ballot initiative.

Discussion: This research presents a new model for physician advocacy for ARH and in so doing, explores the possibility for physicians to have a louder voice in ARH policy.

Learning Objectives:
1. Define physician advocacy as it relates to adolescent reproductive health and policy. 2. Describe activities that constitute physician advocacy. 3. Assess advocacy activities in the context of four adolescent reproductive health policy scenarios.

Keywords: Adolescents, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate in Social Policy and hold master's degrees in Public Health (SM) and Women's and Gender Studies (MA). This abstract is based on my doctoral dissertation research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.