REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH DECISION-MAKING: EXTENDING THE SHARED DECISION-MAKING MODEL INTO THE COMMUNITY
Background: Shared decision-making (SDM) increases patients’ involvement in their healthcare, extending the goal of patient-centered care provision. However, SDM is underexplored in women’s reproductive health, where choices about contraception and pregnancy are frequently value and lifestyle-dependent. Furthermore, limited research exists on SDM outside of the patient-physician dyad, preventing insight into how non-physician community-based healthcare professionals (HCPs) engage women in practice. Finally, little research takes a social-ecological approach to SDM, despite interaction of multiple levels of influence in women’s reproductive healthcare decision-making. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore women’s and HCPs’ experiences with SDM, including the various factors associated with how women make their reproductive healthcare choices.
Methods: This study consisted of three distinct, but interconnected phases. Phase 1 consisted of 6 focus groups (Sept-Dec, 2019) with women aged 18-45 living in Indiana who sought community-based or private healthcare for women’s reproductive healthcare needs. Phase 2 included 20 key-informant interviews with non-physician HCPs (i.e., NP, RN, CNM, doula, pharmacist, chiropractor) living in Indiana (September 2019-May 2020) who provided community-based women’s reproductive healthcare. Focus groups and interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using an expanded grounded theory framework. Constant comparative analysis identified emergent themes in both phases. Phase 3 consisted of an online survey. Women (18-45 years) living in Indiana who sought reproductive healthcare completed the survey (N=432). Multiple linear regression, chi-square analyses, and structural equation modeling were utilized to identify ecological factors associated with pregnancy and contraceptive shared decision-making.
Results: Phase 1) Participants (n=22) wanted to be invited into healthcare discussions. Additionally, they wanted conversations to proceed organically, where HCPs listened to their needs, and supported and validated their choices. Though these behaviors did not always occur, they provided recommendations to enhance these experiences. Additionally, participants described quality of time was more important than quantity of time during appointments. Prior negative healthcare experiences specifically tied to HCP-interactions decreased women’s healthcare engagement. Additionally, social support system experiences were influential on women’s choices. Race also emerged as impactful toward decision-making, including Black women feeling less respected in care and making choices about their reproductive healthcare to ensure their voices were heard, such as enlisting Black doulas. Phase 2) HCPs noted patient-centered care was important to community-based care. They also noted the importance of contextualized decision-making approaches to ensure they could meet women’s varied needs. Results identified that outcome-oriented SDM concepts, including patient buy-in and investigative listening, were important for increasing SDM. HCPs suggested SDM improved healthcare experience beyond one visit. Phase 3) Structural equation modeling revealed access, social support, and patient-HCP relationship had significant relationships with contraceptive and pregnancy SDM. These models demonstrated good global and component fit, suggesting the importance of context in women’s health choices. Further, regression results demonstrated SDM was associated with higher reproductive healthcare quality. Additionally, utilizing community-based healthcare for reproductive health was associated with decreased contraceptive SDM scores.
Conclusion: Findings from this study provide practical considerations for extending SDM work in women’s reproductive health. In particular, results supported shifting SDM beyond the patient-physician dyad to include non-physician HCPs and HCPs in community-based healthcare settings. Women frequently access these services when seeking reproductive healthcare; thus, findings improve our understanding of the practical considerations researchers, policy-makers, and HCPs must make when promoting SDM in these settings. Furthermore, results revealed SDM use across multiple touchpoints, including community-based services, is imperative for women to achieve partnership in their healthcare. Thus, SDM provides a broader opportunity to enhance patient involvement across the spectrum of women’s reproductive healthcare. Incorporating women’s contextual needs and preferences improves HCPs’ insight into women’s experiences to further personalize care. Findings emphasize the importance of decisional space that include the various factors, agents, healthcare settings, and options that exist in reproductive health decision-making as these can shape women’s choices, and, subsequently, their SDM experiences. This mixed methods study allowed thorough insight into multiple stakeholder groups engaged in healthcare decision-making; thus, the results offer guidance on the verbiage, resources, and strategies to engage in SDM and strengthen patient involvement reflective of women’s lifestyle needs and HCPs’ existing workflow. Findings drive SDM practice into community-based healthcare and position it as the standard of care across healthcare settings.