UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Prescription contraception use and adherence by women with substance use disorders

UMMS Affiliation

Commonwealth Medicine, Center for Health Policy and Research; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Women's Health


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Unintended pregnancy rates are high among women with substance use disorders (SUDs), which could be explained partly by lower use of and adherence to contraception. We aimed to test: (1) the association of SUD with prescription contraceptive use, contraceptive method selection and adherence; (2) whether practices participating in the Patient-Centered Medical Home Initiative (PCMHI) had better contraceptive use and adherence for patients with SUD; and (3) for differences in the association of SUD with adherence by type of contraceptive used.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort analysis of claims and encounter data.

SETTING: Massachusetts, USA. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 47 902 women aged 16-45 years enrolled in Medicaid or Commonwealth Care in Massachusetts between 2010 and 2014.

MEASUREMENTS: We examined three dependent variables: (1) use of a reversible prescription contraceptive during 2012; (2) the contraceptive methods used; and (3) the proportion of days covered by a prescription contraceptive in the year following the first prescription contraceptive claim. The primary predictor was diagnosed SUD, defined as at least one claim for an alcohol or drug use disorder.

FINDINGS: SUD was associated with lower rates of prescription contraceptive use during 2012 [19.2 versus 23.9%; adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 0.79, P < 0.001]. SUD was associated with decreased selection of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) compared with short-acting contraception (SARC) (42.8 versus 44.5%; aOR = 0.83, P = 0.011). There was no significant association between SUD and adherence (aOR = 0.84, P = 0.068). PCMHI enrollment did not alter the relationship between SUD and contraceptive use or adherence. Contraceptive method did not impact the relationship between SUD and adherence.

CONCLUSION: Women with substance use disorders are less likely to use prescription contraceptives, especially long-acting methods, but are not significantly less likely to adhere to them once prescribed than women without substance use disorders.


Adherence, Medicaid, contraception, long-acting reversible contraception, short-acting reversible contraception, substance use disorder

DOI of Published Version



Addiction. 2017 Apr 7. doi: 10.1111/add.13840. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Addiction (Abingdon, England)

PubMed ID