Contraceptive knowledge and use among women with intellectual, physical, or sensory disabilities: A systematic review

Willi Horner-Johnson, Esther Moe, Ryan C. Stoner, Krystal A. Klein, Alison B. Edelman, Karen B. Eden, Elena M. Andresen, Aaron B. Caughey, Jeanne Marie Guise

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Women spend most of their reproductive years avoiding pregnancy. However, we know little about contraceptive knowledge and use among women with disabilities, or about strategies to improve contraceptive knowledge and decision-making in this population. Objective: To systematically review published literature on women with disabilities and: 1) contraceptive knowledge; 2) attitudes and preferences regarding contraception; 3) contraceptive use; 4) barriers and facilitators to informed contraceptive use; and 5) effectiveness of interventions to improve informed contraceptive decision-making and use. Methods: We searched MEDLINE, PsychINFO, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and ERIC databases from inception through December 2017. Two reviewers independently reviewed studies for eligibility, abstracted study data, and assessed risk of bias following PRISMA guidance. Results: We reviewed 11,659 citations to identify 62 publications of 54 unique studies (total n of women with disabilities = 21,246). No standard definition of disability existed across studies. The majority of studies focused on women with intellectual disabilities (ID). Women with ID and those who were deaf or hard-of-hearing had lower knowledge of contraceptive methods than women without disabilities. Estimates of contraceptive use varied widely, with some evidence that women with disabilities may use a narrower range of methods. Five of six studies evaluating educational interventions to increase contraceptive knowledge or use reported post-intervention improvements. Conclusions: Women with disabilities may use a more narrow mix of contraceptive methods and are often less knowledgeable about contraceptives than women without disabilities. Interventions to improve knowledge show some promise. A lack of data exists on contraceptive preferences among women with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-154
Number of pages16
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Contraception
  • Intellectual disability
  • People with disabilities
  • Persons with hearing impairments
  • Visually impaired persons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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