Results Summary

What was the research about?

Many kinds of birth control are available. In this study, the research team created a decision aid called My Birth Control to help women choose among birth control methods based on what’s most important to them. For example, a woman might want to take a pill every day instead of getting a shot every three months.

The research team wanted to see if the decision aid helped improve women’s experiences of choosing a birth control method. The team also looked at whether women continued to use birth control after several months.

What were the results?

The research team found no differences between women who did or didn’t use the decision aid in:

  • Using the same birth control method four and seven months after the study started
  • Interest in and use of birth control methods that are more effective at preventing pregnancy
  • Number of unplanned pregnancies
  • Satisfaction with their healthcare visit overall
  • Whether they rated their visit as much better than their previous visit about birth control

But compared with women who didn’t use the decision aid, women who did:

  • Were happier with discussions with their providers
  • Felt like they knew all their options
  • Knew more about birth control methods
  • Were more satisfied with the information about side effects
  • Felt surer about their birth control choice

Who was in the study?

The study included 758 English- and Spanish-speaking women getting care at four health clinics that serve patients with low incomes in San Francisco, California. Of these, 23 percent were white, 16 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander, 11 percent were African American, 11 percent were other races. Also, 39 percent were Hispanic or Latina. Almost half were under age 25.

What did the research team do?

The study included 28 healthcare providers working at the clinics. The providers were nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, physician assistants, or health educators. The research team assigned the providers by chance to either use or not use the decision aid with patients.

Patients using the decision aid looked at it on a tablet, in either English or Spanish, while waiting for their visit. They read about different birth control methods, answered questions about what was important to them about birth control, and checked off the methods they wanted to learn more about. The provider got a printout of this information. The patient and provider then talked about those methods during the visit. Providers who weren’t using the decision aid followed their regular procedures.

Patients filled out a survey right before and after their visit. They also took surveys four and seven months after their visit.

The research team worked with patients, providers, and staff from women’s health groups throughout the study.

What were the limits of the study?

Providers who didn’t use the decision aid may have talked about it with providers who did use it and may have changed how they talked with their patients.

All patients received care at health clinics that serve patients with low incomes in one city. Results might be different for patients who get care at other locations or types of clinics.

Future research could test how the decision aid works in other locations or with different groups of patients.

How can people use the results?

Clinics can offer this decision aid to patients who want to choose a birth control method.

Final Research Report

View this project's final research report.

Peer-Review Summary

Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also assesses how the project addressed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts read a draft report of the research and provide comments about the report. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. These reviewers cannot have conflicts of interest with the study.

The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve descriptions of the conduct of the study or to clarify the connection between results and conclusions. Sometimes, awardees revise their draft reports twice or more to address all of the reviewers’ comments. 

Peer reviewers commented and the researchers made changes or provided responses. Those comments and responses included the following:

  • The reviewers found the research study and report to be important and well-described. Researchers mostly addressed reviewers’ questions by adding information to the report.
  • The reviewers asked the researchers to include additional information about the importance of unintended pregnancy as a patient-centered outcome as well as a public health outcome. The researchers added that there is some debate about whether unintended pregnancy is a patient-centered outcome, as it does not consider differences in the value or salience of unintended pregnancy among different women. The researchers focused instead on providing a tool that would help women make better-informed decisions about their birth control preferences.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Project Information

Christine E. Dehlendorf, MD, MAS
University of California, San Francisco
Patient-Centered Support for Contraceptive Decision Making

Key Dates

September 2013
November 2018

Study Registration Information


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Last updated: April 11, 2024