208165 Does faith affect how southern African-American women use contraception?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Laura M. Gaydos, PhD , Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Winifred Wilkins Thompson, PhD, MSW , Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education Rollins School of Public Health, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Carol J. Rowland Hogue, PhD, MPH , Women's and Children's Center, Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, GA

African-American women in the Southeast face higher rates of unwanted pregnancies and negative birth outcomes. National statistics indicate that religious affiliation correlates with type of contraception usage among adults, and our qualitative research indicates that religious/spiritual/cultural findings may mediate some women's choices about sexuality, partners, and family formation. To investigate further, we conducted a survey of low-income, African-American women regarding how faith impacts reproductive health decision making.


For three weeks we surveyed women attending Women, Infant and Children (WIC) clinics at two urban, metro-Atlanta health clinics. The survey of 365 women, with modal monthly household income <$250 and who self-reported as African-American/Black or Black Caribbean and Christian, included questions on contraceptive usage, family planning, religious attendance, religiosity/spirituality scales, and demographics.


Respondents showed a high level of spirituality and religiosity, which appeared linked to their beliefs about contraceptives. 23.7% of respondents indicated that at least one method of contraception was against their religious beliefs, but only 1.16% reported that religious beliefs actually prevented them from using a contraceptive suggested by a provider. Only 58.1% of respondents, believed that their religious institution would be supportive of their family planning choices,; although, 30% indicated they would leave their faith institution if their family planning choices were not supported (rather than discussing their choices publicly).


Women's perceptions of their religious community's attitudes toward contraception play a mixed, but important role in the reproductive health decision making of low-income, African-American women and should be considered when developing interventions.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, the participant will be able to state the difference between religious practice and spirituality. By the end of the session, the participant will be able to discuss pathways by which religion and spirituality may influence healthcare decision making. By the end of the session, the participant will be able to state the potential practical partnerships for religious and public health organizations around reproductive health access.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I a research assistant professor in health policy and administration at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. I am also an investigator in the Religions and Public Health Collaborative at Emory University and the Co-PI of research on religion and reproductive health.
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.