Factors influencing physicians' advice about female sterilization in USA: a national survey.
BACKGROUND: Tubal ligation can be a controversial method of birth control, depending on the patient's circumstances and the physician's beliefs. METHODS: In a national survey of 1800 US obstetrician-gynecologist (Ob/Gyn) physicians, we examined how patients' and physicians' characteristics influence Ob/Gyns' advice about, and provision of, tubal ligation. Physicians were presented with a vignette in which a patient requests tubal ligation. The patient's age, gravida/parity and her husband's agreement/disagreement were varied in a factorial experiment. Criterion variables were whether physicians would discourage tubal ligation, and whether physicians would provide the surgery. RESULTS: The response rate was 66% (1154/1760). Most Ob/Gyns (98%) would help the patient to obtain tubal ligation, although 9-70% would attempt to dissuade her, depending on her characteristics. Forty-five percent of physicians would discourage a G2P1 (gravida/parity) woman, while 29% would discourage a G4P3 woman. Most physicians (59%) would discourage a 26-year-old whose husband disagreed, while 32% would discourage a 26-year-old whose husband agreed. For a 36-year-old patient, 47% would discourage her if her husband disagreed, while only 10% would discourage her if her husband agreed. Physicians' sex had no significant effect on advice about tubal ligation. CONCLUSIONS: Regarding patients who seek surgical sterilization, physicians' advice varies based on patient age, parity and spousal agreement but almost all Ob/Gyns are willing to provide or help patients obtain surgical sterilization if asked. An important limitation of the study is that a brief vignette, while useful for statistical analysis, is a rough approximation of an actual clinical encounter.
Lawrence, RE; Rasinski, KA; Yoon, JD; Curlin, FA
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