AUSTIN, Texas—The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has awarded a team of University of Texas at Austin researchers a $2.2 million grant for a five-year study of oral contraceptive (OC) use among Latino women.
The study, led by sociology professor and Population Research Center faculty affiliate Dr. Joseph Potter, will look at acquisition and effective use of contraceptives obtained over the counter in Mexico versus in health clinics in the United States. The results of the study will have implications for broad policy issues regarding the availability of all types of contraceptives, including “emergency contraception,” for women in the United States.
Potter’s research will focus on low-income Mexican immigrant and Mexican American women living on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as low-income Mexican women on the Mexican side of the border. Researchers will conduct interviews and track effective use of OCs among one group of women obtaining prescriptions for pills at U.S. health clinics and another group purchasing OCs over the counter in Mexico.
“Our research will answer important questions regarding the appropriate role of medical supervision in OC provision and the factors influencing compliance and continuation,” said Potter. “Additionally, it will add substantially to the slim literature on the increasingly important area of Hispanic fertility and contraceptive practice.”
A large prospective cohort of OC users will be recruited from Mexican pharmacies and El Paso family planning clinics and followed quarterly for nine months to assess whether their baseline decisions about an OC procurement source are associated with satisfaction, compliance, continuation and unintended pregnancy. The study also will access women’s motivations for purchasing OCs at each location, their knowledge of effective use of OCs and the effects of a simple written brochure about OCs in conveying information to women obtaining pills in Mexican pharmacies.
To provide a more thorough understanding of the motivation behind procurement and use decisions, a $100,000 supplement to the study, led by Population Research Center research associate Dr. Kristine Hopkins, will use in-depth and follow-up interviews with women of Mexican origin to compare the contraceptive experiences of those who obtain OCs in the U.S. with those who obtain OCs in Mexico.
The study is a joint project involving researchers at the University of Texas El Paso, the Population Council (Mexico office) and Ibis Reproductive Health in addition to the Austin team.