Women’s values in contraceptive choice: a systematic review of relevant attributes included in decision aids Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Women can choose from a range of contraceptive methods that differ in important ways. Inadequate decision support may lead them to select a method that poorly fits their circumstances, leading to dissatisfaction, misuse, or nonuse. Decision support interventions, such as decision aids, may help women choose a method of contraception that best fits their personal circumstances. To guide future decision aid development, we aim to summarize the attributes of contraceptive methods included in available decision aids as well as surveys and interviews of women actively choosing a contraceptive method. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review to identify attributes of contraceptive methods that may be important to women when engaging in this decision making process. We performed a database search of MEDLINE/PubMed, Ovid EMBASE, OVID CENTRAL, Ovid PsycInfo, EBSCO CINAHL, Popline, and Scopus from 1985 until 2013 to identify decision aids, structured interviews and questionnaires reporting attributes of contraceptive options that are of importance to women. A free-text internet search was also performed to identify additional decision support tools. All articles and tools were reviewed in duplicate for inclusion, and a summary list of attributes was compiled. RESULTS: We included 20 surveys, 1 semistructured interview report and 19 decision aids, reporting 32 unique attributes. While some attributes were consistently included in surveys/interviews and decision aids, several were included more often in decision aids as opposed to surveys/interviews (e.g., STI prevention, noncontraceptive benefits, how the method is used, requirement of a healthcare provider), and vice versa (e.g., a woman's vicarious experience with contraceptive methods). Key attributes mentioned in both surveys/interviews and decision aids include efficacy (29 total mentioned) and side effects/health risks (28 total mentioned). While a limited number of decision support tools were formally evaluated, many were not rigorously studied. CONCLUSIONS: Many attributes were identified as potentially important to women choosing a method of contraception, but these were inconsistently included in the reviewed resources. Formal evaluation of decision support tools for contraceptive choice and involvement of users in the development process may lead to more user-centered design and implementation.


  • Wyatt, Kirk D
  • Anderson, Ryan T
  • Creedon, Douglas
  • Montori, Victor
  • Bachman, John
  • Erwin, Patricia
  • LeBlanc, Annie

publication date

  • December 2014