What is it about?

In this study, we investigated how provider-patient interactions (such as medical appointments) impede women's access to contraception. In particular, we highlight how conflicting knowledge bases (namely women's embodied knowledge versus providers' biomedical knowledge) that inform these appointments give rise to contraceptive barriers. Importantly, both the dominance of providers’ knowledge and their concurrent, sincere belief in patient-centered care may lead providers to believe they have a partnership with women; their more biomedical goals of efficacy and ease of use are prioritized, while women’s objectives are minimized, all while providers express commitment to their stated philosophies that patients come first.

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Why is it important?

Such a dynamic means that women's needs remain unaddressed, leading to a lack of adequate medical care, serving as a barrier to contraceptive use.


Importantly, this overall pattern has structural roots in providers drawing from more biomedical knowledge (through their education, training, and professionalization) and patients relying upon embodied knowledge (where they internalize social structures and understandings in and through physical experiences). Thus, it is not individualized, meaning our findings do not suggest that individual providers are somehow "at fault" – indeed, providers really favor and have passion for patient-centered care. That sincerity was evident across interviews. It is a more widespread pattern stemming from deeply structural roots. A big first step, at least from what we understand by talking with our women participants, is seeing their embodied concerns and knowledge as credible and central rather than periphery to aspects like efficacy and longevity of a contraceptive method.

Dr. Virginia Kuulei Berndt
University of Delaware

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: “This is what the truth is”: Provider-patient interactions serving as barriers to contraception, Health An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health Illness and Medicine, October 2020, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/1363459320969775.
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