Information Access and Social Support for Adolescent Birth Control Selection and Follow-Up: A Pilot Study
Method: All female adolescents seen in the Clinic who were started on any BCM, including condoms were the target population for the project. One hundred adolescent females (90% of recruits) from ages 13-20 (average age of 17) consented to be part of this tracking program. Seventeen of these patients were lost after the initial clinic visit. Phone call/texts were made to the patients 2-3 weeks after their initial visit. Follow-up visits were scheduled 4-6 weeks after the initial visit and start of the chosen birth control method. Phone call/texts were also made at 6-8 and at 12 weeks. Phone calls, birth control method requests, and follow through results were tracked using an Excel spreadsheet.
Results: The average number of phone or text contacts per patient was 3.7. Eighty-five percent of clients called or texted to ask questions about birth control methods, side effects, or other related topics, such as relationship issues surrounding birth control use. Most often requested birth control methods were Implanon (36%), oral contraceptives (20%), and DepoProvera injection (10%). Forty-two percent (15 out of 35) received a LARC compared to 25% before the program. Only six out of 83 adolescents (7%) became pregnant during the six-month study, and five of those were to teens that already had a child.
Implications: The pervasive use of the available phone call/texting service to answer questions about BCM suggests that adolescents welcome this type of resource. It was also promising that adolescents more often followed through on their selection of LARCs than before this pilot program. Further research on this type of program is needed especially given the limitations of this pilot project. Nevertheless, since many of the adolescent questions involved relationships and family dynamics, it is believed that a social worker could be a critical part of the medical team and serve as an effective advocate for at-risk teens in achieving higher rates of birth control use and compliance.