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DOI: 10.1186/s12954-023-00760-7; PMCID: PMC9986654


BACKGROUND: Individuals with substance use disorders (SUD) have disproportionately high rates of unintended pregnancy. Reducing harm associated with this risk and its biopsychosocial consequences requires evidence-based, non-coercive interventions that ensure access to contraception for individuals who choose to prevent pregnancy. We examined feasibility and impact of SexHealth Mobile, a mobile unit-based intervention that aimed to increase access to patient-centered contraceptive care for individuals in SUD recovery programs.

METHODS: We conducted a quasi-experimental study (enhanced usual care [EUC] followed by intervention) at three recovery centers with participants (n = 98) at risk for unintended pregnancy. EUC participants were offered printed information on community locations where they could access contraception care. SexHealth Mobile participants were offered same-day, onsite clinical consultation on a medical mobile unit and contraception if desired. The primary outcome was use of contraception (hormonal or intrauterine device) at one-month post-enrollment. Secondary outcomes were at two-weeks and three-months. Confidence in preventing unintended pregnancy, reasons for non-use of contraception at follow-up, and intervention feasibility were also assessed.

RESULTS: Participants (median age = 31, range 19-40) enrolled in the intervention period were almost 10 times more likely to be using contraception at one-month (51.5%) versus the those enrolled in the EUC period (5.4%) (unadjusted relative risk [URR] = 9.3 [95%CI: 2.3-37.1]; adjusted relative risk [ARR] = 9.8 [95%CI: 2.4-39.2]). Intervention participants were also more likely to be using contraception at 2-weeks (38.7% vs. 2.6%; URR = 14.3 [95%CI: 2.0-104.1]) and three-months (40.9% vs. 13.9%; URR = 2.9 [95% CI: 1.1-7.4]). EUC participants reported more barriers (cost, time) and less confidence in preventing unintended pregnancies. Mixed-methods feasibility data indicated high acceptability and feasible integration into recovery settings.

CONCLUSIONS: Mobile contraceptive care based on principles of reproductive justice and harm reduction reduces access barriers, is feasible to implement in SUD recovery settings, and increases contraception use. Expanding interventions like SexHealth Mobile may help reduce harm from unintended pregnancies among individuals in SUD recovery. Trial Registration NCT04227145.

Journal Title

Harm reduction journal [electronic resource]





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MeSH Keywords

Adult; Female; Humans; Pregnancy; Contraception; Contraceptive Agents; Intrauterine Devices; Patient-Centered Care; Substance-Related Disorders


Contraception; Mobile unit; Recovery; Reproductive justice; Sexual health; Substance use disorders


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