Original article| Volume 52, ISSUE 3, P284-292, March 2013

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Meeting the Contraceptive Needs of Teens and Young Adults: Youth-Friendly and Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive Services in U.S. Family Planning Facilities



      Increased use of contraceptive services, including long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), among sexually active teens and young adults could significantly reduce unintended pregnancy. Objectives were to describe youth-friendly contraceptive services (including LARC) available to teens and young adults at U.S. publicly funded family planning facilities.


      Between April and September 2011, center directors at a nationally representative sample of 1,196 U.S. publicly funded family planning facilities were surveyed to assess accessibility and provision of contraceptive services for teens and young adults; 584 (52%) responded.


      Facilities were accessible to young clients in several ways, including not requiring scheduled appointments for method refills (67%) and having flexible hours (64%). Most facilities provided outreach and/or education to young people (70%), and 27% used social network media to do this. Most facilities took steps to ensure confidentiality for young clients. These youth-friendly practices were more common at Planned Parenthood, Title X, and reproductive health focused facilities than at other facilities. Long-acting reversible contraceptive methods were regularly discussed with younger clients at less than half the facilities. Youth-friendly sites had increased rates of LARC provision among younger clients. The most common challenges to providing contraceptive and LARC services to younger clients were the costs of LARC methods (60%), inconvenient clinic hours (51%), staff concerns about intrauterine device (IUD) use among teens (47%), and limited training on implant insertion (47%).


      Improving the ability of family planning facilities to provide youth-friendly contraceptive and LARC-specific methods to younger clients may increase the use of highly effective contraception in this population.


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