Perceptions of barriers to effective family planning services among women with disabilities

Jeanne L. Alhusen, Tina Bloom, Kathryn Laughon, Lillian Behan, Rosemary B. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Women with disabilities have the same rights as women without disabilities to prevent unintended pregnancy, yet little is known about their experiences in accessing family planning methods. Objective: This qualitative descriptive study explored perceptions of barriers to effective family planning services among women with disabilities. Method: Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with 31 women with diverse disabilities as part of a larger study investigating risks and facilitators of unintended pregnancy among women with disabilities across the United States. Results: Analysis revealed multiple barriers experienced by women with disabilities in accessing effective family planning services needed to prevent unintended pregnancy. Barriers included physical or system barriers, financial limitations, and nonresponsive healthcare providers. Women also identified difficulties in finding appropriate family planning methods, both related and unrelated to disability. Conclusions: This is the first in-depth exploration of barriers to accessing family planning services and challenges to finding effective family planning options among women with disabilities. The findings underscore the need for targeted interventions, improved provider training, and policy changes to optimize reproductive healthcare, improve access to family planning services, and prevent unintended pregnancy among women of childbearing age with diverse disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101055
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Disability
  • Family planning
  • Unintended pregnancy


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