A longstanding gap in the reproductive health field has been the availability of a screening instrument that can reliably predict a person’s likelihood of becoming pregnant. The Desire to Avoid Pregnancy Scale is a new measure; understanding its sensitivity and specificity as a screening tool for pregnancy as well as its predictive ability and how this varies by socio-demographic factors is important to inform its implementation.
This analysis was conducted on a cohort of 994 non-pregnant participants recruited in October 2018 and followed up for one year. The cohort was recruited using social media as well as advertisements in a university, school, abortion clinic and outreach sexual health service. Almost 90% of eligible participants completed follow-up at 12 months; those lost to follow-up were not significantly different on key socio-demographic factors. We used baseline DAP score and a binary variable of whether participants experienced pregnancy during the study to assess the sensitivity, specificity, area under the ROC curve (AUROC) and positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV) of the DAP at a range of cut-points. We also examined how the predictive ability of the DAP varied according to socio-demographic factors and by the time frame considered (e.g., pregnancy within 3, 6, 9 and 12 months).
At a cut-point of 2 on the 0–4 range of the DAP scale, the DAP had a sensitivity of 0.78, a specificity of 0.81 and an excellent AUROC of 0.87. In this sample the cumulative incidence of pregnancy was 16% (95%CI 13%, 18%) making the PPV 43% and the NPV 95% at this cut-point. The DAP score was the factor most strongly associated with pregnancy, even after age and number of children were taken into account. The association between baseline DAP score and pregnancy did not differ across time frames.
This is the first study to assess the DAP scale as a screening tool and shows that its predictive ability is superior to the limited pre-existing pregnancy prediction tools. Based on our findings, the DAP could be used with a cut-point selected according to the purpose.