Contraceptive counselling is essential in women with chronic disease, though it is frequently overlooked. We aimed to assess practices and awareness in contraceptive counselling in hospital physicians caring for reproductive age women with chronic disease.
A questionnaire was distributed in April 2017 to physicians from 16 medical specialties in a tertiary care hospital in Portugal. Statistical analysis performed using Microsoft Office Excel® and IBM SPSS-Statistics®.
Two-hundred physicians participated in the survey: 59.5% were female, 55% under 35 years-old and 48.5% were residents. Only 26.5% practiced in surgical specialties. Two-thirds consistently inquired about the use of contraception. Most referred patients to Family Planning services or performed contraceptive counselling when pregnancy posed significant health risks (89.0%), when prescribing teratogenic medication (79.5%) or drugs with potential interaction with contraceptives (75.0%). Lack of training in contraception was the main reason for not referring patients to Family Planning services. While 83% considered counselling very important, only 5% had recently undergone training and 12.5% felt knowledgeable enough to perform it. Only 12.5% were aware of the institution’s Family Planning resources. Female gender, non-surgical specialty, age over 35 years-old and over 10 years since specialisation were positively associated with awareness.
Most physicians addressed contraceptive management in women with comorbidities, but adequate training is lacking. Our results highlight the importance of communication between health care providers to achieve an adequate and multidisciplinary approach to reproductive and general health goals.