Unintended pregnancy and induced abortion among young (unmarried or nulliparous) women have become serious social and health issues in China, which are thought to partly result from low use of long-acting reversible contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs). Considering that providers may play an especially important role in increasing use of this particular method, we investigated Chinese health care providers’ attitudes and practices regarding IUDs use for nulliparous women, and further examine the potential factors and reasons contributing to their attitudes and practices.
We recruited health care providers at two Chinese national academic conferences and surveyed them about knowledge of IUDs, willingness to recommend IUDs to nulliparous women, and their related practices. Modified Poisson regression was used to examine the potential factors related to their attitudes and practices.
Approximately a half of respondents reported unwillingness to recommend IUDs to nulliparous women. Providers with more misperceptions about the safety and contraindications were more likely to be unwilling to recommend IUDs to nulliparous women. Moreover, 71.0% of respondents rarely or never recommended or provided IUDs to nulliparous women. Providers’ unwillingness to recommend IUDs to nulliparous women was associated with their infrequent practices (aPR=1.43; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.96). In addition to concerns about the side effects or complications, traditional sexual concept against premarital sex was often cited as a reason by Chinese health providers for their negative attitudes towards IUDs use for nulliparous women, a large proportion of whom are unmarried.
Our findings suggest that negative attitudes and infrequent practices regarding IUDs use for nulliparous women are common in Chinese health care providers. Moreover, misperceptions about IUDs, as well as traditional sexual concept, contribute to Chinese health care providers’ negative attitudes towards IUDs use for nulliparous women, and may further reduce their provision. Educational interventions are needed to improve providers’ accurate knowledge of IUDs and fill the gap between traditional sexual concept and young women’s needs of contraceptive services.