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Systematic Review How Can We Address What We Do Not Measure? A Systematic Scoping Review of the Measurement and Operationalization of Social Determinants of Health Research on Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive among Adolescents in the US 1 , 2 3 4 1 Catherine Poehling * , Margaret Mary Downey , Anwei Polly Gwan , Sarah Cannady and Olivia Ismail School of Social Work, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39401, USA School of Social Work, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA Upstream USA, Boston, MA 02109, USA * Correspondence: email@example.com Abstract: Teen pregnancy is often considered an adverse health outcome that accentuates gender inequities, diminishes opportunities, and jeopardizes the safety of adolescent and young adult birthing people. Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) have been hailed as a panacea for teen pregnancy. However, adolescents and emerging adults intersect with multiple assaults on their health and well-being due to gender inequity and racism. To establish equitable care, it is imperative to discern all barriers that inﬂuence their reproductive autonomy. This study evaluates the measurement, operationalization, and quality of research conducted on adolescents and emerging adults that analyzed the use of LARC within the social determinant of health framework (SDOH) in Citation: Poehling, C.; Mary Downey, M.; Gwan, A.P.; Cannady, S.; Ismail, the US. SDOH were assessed using the Dahlgren and Whitehead model, and reports were analyzed O. How Can We Address What We using a modiﬁed version of the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Critical Appraisal tools. Nineteen Do Not Measure? A Systematic articles were included in this study. Researchers found the insufﬁcient measurement of race, ethnicity, Scoping Review of the Measurement sexuality, and gender among studies on LARC and SDOH in adolescents and emerging adults. Future and Operationalization of Social studies must measure a full range of identities in data collection to generate knowledge on the impact Determinants of Health Research on of SDOH and LARC use among diverse populations. Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive among Adolescents in Keywords: gender equity; health equity; health disparities; adolescent health; social determinants of the US. Adolescents 2023, 3, 240–258. health; long-acting reversible contraceptives; LARC; intrauterine device; IUD; implant https://doi.org/10.3390/ adolescents3020018 Academic Editors: Elizabeth Reed, Rebecka Lundgren and Kathryn 1. Introduction M. Barker The impact of social, racial, and economic inequities on the health outcomes of adoles- Received: 20 February 2023 cents and emerging adults capable of becoming pregnant is a critical concern for health Revised: 6 March 2023 providers and advocates. Previous literature has documented the impact anti-black racism, Accepted: 15 March 2023 and prejudice practices have on access to quality care and, thus, maternal health and birth Published: 30 March 2023 outcomes [1–3]. Black-birthing people are three times more likely to die from pregnancy- related causes than White-birthing people [4–8]. In addition, they are more likely to face pregnancy-related morbidities, including hypertension, diabetes, and hemorrhage [9,10]. Despite this, Black birthing people are almost twice as likely to face an unintended preg- Copyright: © 2023 by the authors. nancy compared to their White counterparts, further putting them at increased risk for Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. poor pregnancy outcomes . This article is an open access article The high prevalence of unintended pregnancy rates and maternal mortality in Black- distributed under the terms and birthing people can be attributed to poor healthcare quality, barriers to timely healthcare, conditions of the Creative Commons structural anti-Black racism, and implicit biases [12–14]. Social Determinants of Health Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ (SDOH) continue to bar birthing People of Color from equitable access to many essential 4.0/). resources that allow them to plan and undergo their pregnancies safely and with dignity. Adolescents 2023, 3, 240–258. https://doi.org/10.3390/adolescents3020018 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/adolescents Adolescents 2023, 3 241 Since the early 2000s, Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) use has become more prevalent among adolescents [15,16]. National and state-level initiatives have focused on expanding these resources to low-income individuals . 1.1. Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents in the United States According to the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), more than half of adoles- cents aged 15 to 19 years (41% female, 39% male) engaged in penile-vaginal intercourse between 2006–2019 . While sexual activity rates have remained stagnant over time for adolescents categorized as female, the US teen birth rate (i.e., births per 1000 females aged 15–19 years) has steadily declined since 1991 [18,19]. In 2019, adolescent birth rates were 16.7 per 1000 . Although reasons remain unclear, current evidence suggests that declines are secondary to adolescents’ increased use of contraceptives [20,21]. Nonetheless, approximately 75% of adolescent pregnancies are unintentional and account for one in six unintended pregnancies in the US overall . US adolescent birth rates are signiﬁcantly higher than in other western industrialized nations, and substantial racial, ethnic, and sociopolitical disparities persist . Compared to Non-Hispanic, White adolescents, the birth rates for Non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanic adolescents were two times higher. In addition, the birth rates of American Indians/Alaskan Natives (AIAN) were the highest among all ethnicities . Disparities in adolescent birth rates have been linked to health inequities such as geographical location, low education level, low income (<100% FPL), and housing stability [19,23–25]. Additionally, access to comprehensive health services, especially abortion care, and restrictive health policies exacerbate disparities [26,27]. Adolescent pregnancies and subsequent childbearing have been linked to signiﬁcant implications and are noted as signiﬁcant societal concerns. Adolescent pregnancy is linked with increased high-school dropout rates and signiﬁcantly poor maternal health outcomes (i.e., prolonged premature rupture of membranes, preeclampsia, postpartum depression, and maternal deaths) . Children of adolescent parents are more likely to have lower school achievement, drop out of high school, experience more health problems, face incar- ceration during adolescence, give birth as an adolescent, and face unemployment as young adults . Moreover, teenage pregnancy and childbearing cost approximately $9.4 billion annually, indicating a signiﬁcant ﬁnancial burden on the country. . 1.2. Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives Many public health and medical providers have recently focused on highly effective contraceptive measures to combat high adolescent pregnancy rates. LARC is a form of contraception that provides long-term pregnancy prevention without requiring actions from users. Currently, three LARCs are available in the US, levonorgestrel intrauterine devices (LNG-IUD), copper intrauterine devices, and hormonal implants. Hormonal IUDs (e.g., name brands Mirena, Lileta, Skyla, and Kyleena) release the hormone progesterone over the course of years. As of 2023, Mirena (52 mg LNG) and Lileta (52 mg LNG) have been approved for usage for up to eight years. In comparison, Kyleena (19.5 LNG) and Skyla (13.5 mg LNG) are approved for ﬁve and three years, respectively . Unlike the LNG IUDs, the Copper IUD (e.g., Paragard) does not release hormonal substances. Instead, it prevents pregnancy by causing irritation and inﬂammation to the uterine lining and acts as a toxin for spermatozoa. It has been approved for usage for up to ten years . Lastly, the etonogestrel single rod hormonal implant (e.g., Nexplanon 68 mg) is a device placed under the skin of the inner non-dominant arm and has been approved for up to three years of usage. In the US, all three are approved for usage in nulliparous and multiparous people with uteruses . LARCs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy. Compared to other alterna- tives, such as condoms, combined oral contraceptives (COCs), progestin-only pills (POPs), estrogen-based patches and rings, or fertility awareness-based methods, LARCs are >99% Adolescents 2023, 3 242 effective. The failure rate for LNG-IUDs, copper IUDs, and hormonal implants is 0.1–0.4%, 0.8%, and 0.1%, respectively . 1.3. Barriers to LARC Access for Adolescents and Young Adults According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10.3% of people with childbearing capacities use LARCs. Young adults (13.1%) are almost two times more likely to use LARC compared to adolescents (8.2%) . More notably, adolescent (<age 20) LARC usage has only increased somewhat from <3% (from 2006–2010) to 8.2% despite efforts to promote uptake or continuation . Several studies have identiﬁed barriers to accessing LARCs for adolescents. For example, a systematic review conducted by Hendrik et al. (2020) identiﬁed that despite recommendations from several medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Society of Family Planning (SFP), and the CDC, many providers are hesitant to provide LARCs to adolescents, especially when they are nulliparous . These reservations stem from misconceptions regarding LARC complications . These misconceptions include an increased risk of pelvic inﬂammatory disease (PID) resulting in infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and pelvic pain; and an increased risk of IUD expulsion . In addition, people seeking contraception face barriers to uptake, such as their lack of familiarity with LARC methods, the high costs of LARC, lack of quality healthcare access, and low parental acceptance [22,35]. Several research studies have evaluated the effects of removing such barriers to LARC uptake or continuation for adolescents. One study is the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a large prospective study of 10,000 people capable of becoming pregnant in Missouri, ages 14–45 years . People were provided LARC education and no-cost IUDs and implants [use next]. Seventy-two percent of the 1404 adolescents enrolled chose a LARC method over other contraceptive methods . Teens enrolled in this study experienced lower rates of pregnancy (34.0 vs. 158.5 per 1000), birth (19.4 vs. 94.0 per 1000), and abortion (9.7 vs. 41.5 per 1000) compared to the national average in 2008 . This landmark study and similar evidence demonstrate the impact of reducing adolescent barriers to LARC use and their effect on health outcomes [36,37]. 1.4. LARCs and Disparities The link between adolescent pregnancy and the racial, ethnic, and economic disparities impacted by childbearing is a focus for health advocates. Given the numerous beneﬁts of LARCs, many researchers, clinicians, and politicians have advocated for state-funded LARC programs to reduce access burdens . However, reproductive justice and health scholars have drawn attention to the predicaments of promoting LARC use for adolescents to advance health equity [38,39] 1. The notion that LARC can solely mitigate unintended pregnancies and thus poverty; 2. The clinical emphasis of LARC over all other forms of contraceptives; 3. The disregard of the historical association between LARC promotion and racism and eugenics . 1.4.1. LARCs as a Means to Ameliorate Social Ailments Many advocates herald LARC as a singular solution for pregnancy prevention due to their efﬁcacy and perceived ease of use . This overly simplistic reduction suggests that inaccessibility to effective contraceptives is the sole driver behind social and economic dis- advantages. This implicates unintended pregnancies as a cause rather than a consequence of inequity, failing to fully consider the racial, gendered, structural, and economic factors contributing to unintended pregnancies [38,40,41]. As Gubrium et al. (2016) indicate, eradi- cating adolescent pregnancy would not eliminate barriers to higher education attainment or economic inequities . This viewpoint places the blame for social inequities and the burdens of social change on the reproductive practices of birthing people, particularly Adolescents 2023, 3 243 adolescents . Moreover, this mindset may distract from the structural inequalities that serve as the root causes of poor reproductive and maternal health outcomes . This approach further perpetuates social and health inequity by focusing on individual-level behavioral interventions rather than the broader systemic and structural inequities . 1.4.2. Reproductive Coercion and LARC Promotion LARCs are considered ﬁrst-line contraceptive options, particularly for adolescents, due to their efﬁcacy . LARC proponents maintain that healthcare providers should use directive and persuasive tactics when people choose not to use LARCs, given that in some instances, it is not in the person’s best interest for their overall well-being, as LARCs are statistically the most effective medication option for pregnancy prevention . However, pregnancy and pregnancy prevention are complex, and management differs from other medical conditions or illnesses. Additionally, the assumption that efﬁcacy is the only factor to consider in contracep- tive decision-making ignores the myriad of additional factors (i.e., partner involvement, synthetic hormonal levels, a person’s self-determination, non-contraceptive beneﬁts, and the impact of sexual health) that affect individual decisions about their elected contracep- tion methods . Furthermore, it is impossible to discuss the efﬁcacy, accessibility, and use of LARCs without acknowledging the deeply harmful history of reproductive coercion in family planning and speciﬁc to LARC methods. LARC methods are highly effective contraceptives touted as a panacea for lowering adolescent pregnancy rates. However, when the primary focus of any method is centered on reducing unintended pregnancy as a singular or most important factor, this can lead to LARC being prescribed or preferred in contraceptive counseling in a biased way, particularly as it applies to young people. Providers and advocates must balance the well-intended enthusiasm for a method that may be highly effective with little to no daily involvement by the person using it while also safeguarding from unintentional or intentional bias and coercion in the ways patients are counseled on or offered contraceptive methods. While LARCs are an excellent option for some people, they do not meet the many needs of all people. The LARC ﬁrst lens fails to offer support for birthing people, particularly adolescents and emerging adults, for self-determination around their reproductive capacity. It ultimately lacks support for birthing people and parents. 1.5. Social Determinants of Health and LARCs There is increasing attention to adequately understanding and addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH) that shape LARC use. The SDOH framework emphasizes factors including and above individual biology, behavior, and genetics that shape health and healthcare . Such factors include living, working, learning, and playing conditions and the structural forces shaping those conditions . This systematic review explores how the SDOH are measured and operationalized in the current literature on LARC use in adolescents. Speciﬁcally, the authors apply the widely cited Dahlgren and Whitehead rainbow model of the SDOH in Figure 1 to peer-reviewed research articles on studies where LARC use is a primary outcome . 1.6. Study Purpose The primary purpose of this study is to evaluate the measurement, operationalization, and quality of research conducted on adolescents and emerging adults analyzing LARC usage within an SDOH framework in the US. Operationalization is deﬁned as the process of precisely deﬁning abstract concepts within research so that they can be empirically evaluated. Operationalization is especially important to research validity when measuring SDOH and healthy equity due to the abstract nature of the SDOH [44,45]. Adolescents 2023, 3, FOR PEER REVIEW 5 Adolescents 2023, 3 244 Figure 1. The Dahlgren and Whitehead Rainbow Model, 2021  (Reprinted with permission from Figure 1. The Dahlgren and Whitehead Rainbow Model, 2021  (Reprinted with permission from Ref.  Ref. . 2021, . 2021, Dahlgren and Whitehea Dahlgren and Whitehead). d). 2. Materials and Methods 1.6. Study Purpose A systematic scoping review of the literature using the Preferred Reporting Items for The primary purpose of this study is to evaluate the measurement, operationaliza- Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) format was conducted, and presented tion, and quality of research conducted on adolescents and emerging adults analyzing in Figure 2. A research librarian was consulted to develop a search strategy and database LARC usage within an SDOH framework in the US. Operationalization is defined as the selection. Five electronic databases were used to search for published articles: PubMed, process of precisely defining abstract concepts within research so that they can be empir- Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Litera- ically evaluated. Operationalization is especially important to research validity when ture), and PsycINFO beginning in December 2020. Terms to capture contraceptive methods measuring SDOH and healthy equity due to the abstract nature of the SDOH [44,45]. of interest (i.e., long-acting reversible contraceptives, intrauterine device, implant) and their abbreviations, associated brand names, and synonyms (e.g., birth control) were included 2. Materials and Methods (Supplementary File S1). In addition, terms including social determinants of health, health A systematic scoping review of the literature using the Preferred Reporting Items for equity, health disparity, and associated terms were included to develop a comprehensive Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) format was conducted, and presented understanding of the literature. Terms related to speciﬁc aspects of the SDOH framework, in Figure 2. A research librarian was consulted to develop a search strategy and database such as housing, healthcare, insurance, stigma, income, community, and occupation, were selection. Five electronic databases were used to search for published articles: PubMed, also included. Search terms related to contraceptive injections (e.g., Depo-Provera) were Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Lit- initially included but ultimately excluded from analysis as this method did not meet strict erature), and PsycINFO beginning in December 2020. Terms to capture contraceptive LARC criteria for reversibility after consensus from researchers. methods of interest (i.e., long-acting reversible contraceptives, intrauterine device, im- Data collection began in December 2020 and concluded in January 2022 with directed plant) and their abbreviations, associated brand names, and synonyms (e.g., birth control) searches of relevant studies’ references to capture additional sources. Studies published were included (Supplementary File S1). In addition, terms including social determinants after 2005 were included as this year represented an increase in peer-reviewed, English- of health, health equity, health disparity, and associated terms were included to develop language scholarship published on the SDOH . a comprehensive understanding of the literature. Terms related to specific aspects of the Researchers used this data set and further extracted studies of qualitative, quantitative, SDOH framework, such as housing, healthcare, insurance, stigma, income, community, or mixed-method research designs conducted in the United States, including adolescents and occupation, were also included. Search terms related to contraceptive injections (e.g., and young adults aged 13–28 years, as adolescents and emerging adults are closely related Depo-Provera) were initially included but ultimately excluded from analysis as this in development . Studies were included that measured at least one SDOH. LARC use (i.e., meththe od did n continuation ot meet st ofrict a LARC; LARC cr initiation iteria fo of r rever a LARC, sibilit or yuse aftefor r con the sensu ﬁrsts f time; rom r oreuptake, search- ers. the returning to use after non-use) is a primary outcome measure. Covidence, a web-based software platform, was used to screen and manage imported references. Three reviewers Data collection began in December 2020 and concluded in January 2022 with directed (MMD, CP, AG) screened titles and abstracts, then full-text reviews. All reviewers met and searches of relevant studies’ references to capture additional sources. Studies published independently screened ﬁve random records and discussed their decision-making processes after 2005 were included as this year represented an increase in peer-reviewed, English- to establish consistency; the remaining records were then divided among reviewers. language scholarship published on the SDOH . Researchers used this data set and further extracted studies of qualitative, quantita- tive, or mixed-method research designs conducted in the United States, including adoles- cents and young adults aged 13–28 years, as adolescents and emerging adults are closely related in development . Studies were included that measured at least one SDOH. Adolescents 2023, 3, FOR PEER REVIEW 11 Adolescents 2023, 3 245 FigureFigure 2. 2. PRISMA PRISMA F Flowlow D Diagram. iagram. 3. Results Although the study was not registered with PROSPERO, an extraction form was 3.1. Study Characteristics established a priori. Additionally, two reviewers (MMD, CP) independently assessed the quality of studies (e.g., for bias) using an adapted version of the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Nineteen articles (representing 19 studies) published between 2011 and 2020 as- sessing social determinants of LARC usage among adolescents and young adults met in- critical appraisal checklist for analytical cross-sectional quality assessment (Appendix A). clusion criteria and were included for analysis. Sixteen studies (84%) used quantitative Authors used the JBI checklist to holistically understand study quality rather than to methodology, including retrospective (n = 4), prospective cross-sectional (n = 4), case-con- numerically score them and rule in or rule out studies. No studies were excluded to trol studies (n= 1), quasi-experimental (n = 2), randomized controlled (n = 1), pre-and post- concerns about their quality . Next, the authors used the extraction form, which was analysis (n = 1), ecological (n = 1), survey analysis (n = 1). Three (16%) studies used quali- created a priori on individual studies to determine how they measured and operationalized tative methodology. Sample sizes for studies ranged from n = 18 to n = 616,148 partici- the SDOH, pants. P the art ir icimpact ipants were r on LARC ecruited use, from and vario identify us settioverall ngs, inclu themes ding unand iversipatterns ty-affiliatein d studies’ clinics or research sites, Title X clinics, and Planned Parenthood Clinics. One study extrap- quality, methodological approaches, and design. Furthermore, the authors evaluated the olated data for secondary analysis from the New York Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance measurement and operationalization of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, and sexual orientation System . via the extraction form for each study. In the US, race and ethnicity are social constructs useful for measuring systemic racism present in US society . Sex or sex assigned at birth is typically operationalized via biological markers, whereas gender represents social aspects of gender expression, including identities and behaviors . An outline is provided of the nineteen studies included and their characteristics (Table 1). Three reviewers (CP, APG, and SC) appraised one article and came together to discuss challenges and discrepancies and reach a consensus. Reviewers (CP, MMD, APG, and OI) independently applied the assessment tool in Google Forms in duplicate. Reviewers met during each research phase to discuss challenges and discrepancies and reach a consensus. Finally, two reviewers (CP and MMD) met to review and analyze results, grouping them into themes. Adolescents 2023, 3 246 Table 1. Summary of study characteristics. US State, LARC Methods Source of Operationalization of Study Name First Author, Year Study Design Sample Size Age Range BEA * Region Examined Participants Race and/or Ethnicity Impact of the Not speciﬁcally Rochester LARC listed though based Secondary data from Initiative on National in on national sample the national Youth Race/Ethnicity: White; adolescents’ “High school Aligne, 2020 scope/Multiple Quantitative sizes it would Deﬁned as “LARC” Risk Behavior African-American; utilization of students” regions theoretically be Surveillance System Hispanic or Latino long-acting combined 2013 and (YRBSS) reversible 2017 = 28,348 contraception Pediatric and Adolescent Retrospective gynecology private Review of practice, a Title X Kentucky; menarche to Hormonal IUD, Intrauterine Device Alton, 2012 Quantitative 233 clinic, and Not reported Southeast Region 21 years Non-hormonal IUD in Adolescent and community based, Young Women grant funded clinic serving a high risk teen population. Will it Hurt? The Race: Black; White; Intrauterine Device Boston Children’s Asian; Other; Not Insertion Experience Massachusetts; New Hormonal IUD, Hospital and Reported; and Long-Term Callahan, 2019 Quantitative 95 13–21 years England Region Non-hormonal IUD Cambridge Health Ethnicity: Acceptability Alliance Hispanic/Latino; Not Among Adolescents Hispanic/Latino; Other and Young Women The Impact of an Adolescent Gynecology Provider Hormonal IUD, on Intrauterine Non-hormonal IUD, Academic Practice West Virginia; Device and Crain, 2019 Quantitative 2401 13–24 years Subdermal and Title X funded Not reported Southeast Region Subdermal contraceptive patients Contraceptive implant Implant Use Among Adolescent Patients Adolescents 2023, 3 247 Table 1. Cont. US State, LARC Methods Source of Operationalization of Study Name First Author, Year Study Design Sample Size Age Range BEA * Region Examined Participants Race and/or Ethnicity California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Long-Acting Michigan, Minnesota, Reversible Hormonal IUD, Planned Parenthood New Jersey, New Contraception Non-hormonal IUD, health centers Mexico, North Race/Ethnicity: White; Counseling and Use Gibbs, 2016 Quantitative 1500 18–25 years Subdermal serving low-income, Carolina, Ohio, Hispanic; Black; Other for Older contraceptive diverse patient Oregon, Pennsylvania, Adolescents and implant populations and Washington; Nulliparous Women National in scope/multiple regions Follow-Up Care and 6-Month Continuation Rates Hormonal IUD, Race/Ethnicity: for LongActing Non-hormonal IUD, non-Hispanic White, Reversible Pennsylvania; Urban adolescent Jones, 2020 Quantitative 177 13–23 years Subdermal non-Hispanic Black, Contraceptives in Mideast Region specialty care clinic contraceptive Hispanic or Latino, Adolescents and implant Other Young Adults: A Retrospective Chart Review Intrauterine Contraception in Not labeled as Race or Adolescents and An urban residency Virginia; 22 years or Hormonal IUD, Ethnicity: Caucasian, Young Women: A Lara-Torre, 2011 Quantitative 89 program OB/GYN Southeast Region younger Non-hormonal IUD African American, Descriptive Study of clinic Hispanic Use, Side Effects, and Compliance Acceptance of University-afﬁliated long-acting clinics, two facilities reversible Hormonal IUD, providing abortion contraceptive Non-hormonal IUD, services, and Race: Black, White, Missouri; methods by Mestad, 2011 Quantitative 5086 14–20 years Subdermal community clinics Other; Plains Region adolescent contraceptive that provide family Ethnicity: Hispanic (y/n) participants in the implant planning, obstetric, Contraceptive gynecologic, and/or CHOICE Project primary care Adolescents 2023, 3 248 Table 1. Cont. US State, LARC Methods Source of Operationalization of Study Name First Author, Year Study Design Sample Size Age Range BEA * Region Examined Participants Race and/or Ethnicity Improving LARC Hormonal IUD, Access for Urban Non-hormonal IUD, Adolescents and Maryland; University Pediatric Race/ethnicity: Black, Onyewuchi, 2019 Quantitative 104 13–24 years Subdermal Young Adults in the Mideast Region Clinic White, Hispanic, Other contraceptive Pediatric Primary implant Care Setting Game change in Colorado: Widespread use of long-acting Hormonal IUD, Race: White, Black, reversible Non-hormonal IUD, Asian/Paciﬁc Islander, contraceptives and Colorado; Rocky Title X-funded Ricketts, 2014 Quantitative 48,740 15-24 years Subdermal American Indian/Native rapid decline in Mountain Region Clinics contraceptive Alaskan, Other, births among young, implant Unknown; low-income women. Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health Vital Signs: Trends in Use of Long-Acting Reversible Hormonal IUD, Contraception National in Non-hormonal IUD, Family Planning Among Teens Aged Romero, 2015 scope/multiple Quantitative 616,148 15–19 years Subdermal Annual Report, Not Reported 15–19 Years Seeking regions contraceptive United States Contraceptive implant Services—United States, 2005–201 Urban adolescents Outpatient and young adults’ adolescent medicine decision-making New York; Hormonal IUD, Rubin, 2016 Qualitative 27 16–25 years clinic located within Ethnicity only: Latina process around Mideast Region Non-hormonal IUD an academic selecting intrauterine children’s hospital contraception Adolescents 2023, 3 249 Table 1. Cont. US State, LARC Methods Source of Operationalization of Study Name First Author, Year Study Design Sample Size Age Range BEA * Region Examined Participants Race and/or Ethnicity Integrating Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Hormonal IUD, Services into New Non-hormonal IUD, York City New York; School Based Health Sangraula, 2016 Qualitative 18 15–19 years Subdermal Not measured School-Based Health Mideast Region Centers contraceptive Centers: Quality implant Improvement to Ensure Provision of Youth-Friendly Services Promotion of Race: Asian, Paciﬁc Hormonal IUD, Long-Acting Islander, White, Native Non-hormonal IUD, Reversible Santibenchakul, Hawai’i; Far Obstetrics and Hawaiian, Other; Quantitative 450 visits 14–25 years Subdermal Contraception 2019 West Region Gynecology clinic Ethnicity: Hispanic or contraceptive Among Adolescents Latino; not Hispanic or implant and Young Adults Latino; not documented University based Adolescent clinic in the Race/Ethnicity: Latina, Experiences With Missouri; Plains Hormonal IUD, Schmidt, 2015 Qualitative 43 14–19 years Contraceptive African American, White, Intrauterine Devices: Region Non-hormonal IUD CHOICE pilot Other A Qualitative Study project Pediatric Provider Hormonal IUD, Education and Use Non-hormonal IUD, of Long-Acting Massachusetts; Smith, 2019 Quantitative 7331 15–21 years Subdermal Large health system Not Reported Reversible Mideast Region contraceptive Contraception in implant Adolescents Provider and health system factors Hormonal IUD, associated with Non-hormonal IUD, Massachusetts; Multiple sites usage of long-acting Smith, 2017 Quantitative 5363 15–21 years Subdermal Not Reported Mideast Region (clinics, hospitals) reversible contraceptive contraception in implant adolescents. Adolescents 2023, 3 250 Table 1. Cont. US State, LARC Methods Source of Operationalization of Study Name First Author, Year Study Design Sample Size Age Range BEA * Region Examined Participants Race and/or Ethnicity Adolescents’ Acceptance of Long-Acting Reversible Hormonal IUD, Ethnicity only: Contraception After Non-hormonal IUD, Urban pediatric African-American, California; Far an Educational Vayngortin, 2020 Quantitative 79 14–21 years Subdermal emergency Hispanic, Multi-Ethnic, West Region Intervention in the contraceptive department Caucasian, Asian/Paciﬁc Emergency implant Islander Department: A Randomized Controlled Trial Use of the Intrauterine Device Hormonal IUD, Race/Ethnicity: Secondary data from Among Adolescent National in Non-hormonal IUD, White/non-Hispanic, the National Survey and Young Adult Whitaker, 2013 scope/multiple Quantitative 4684 15–24 years Subdermal Black/non-Hispanic, of Family Growth Women in the United regions contraceptive Hispanic, (NSFG) States From 2002 implant Other/Multiracial to 2010 * BEA is the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Adolescents 2023, 3 251 3. Results 3.1. Study Characteristics Nineteen articles (representing 19 studies) published between 2011 and 2020 assessing social determinants of LARC usage among adolescents and young adults met inclusion criteria and were included for analysis. Sixteen studies (84%) used quantitative methodol- ogy, including retrospective (n = 4), prospective cross-sectional (n = 4), case-control studies (n= 1), quasi-experimental (n = 2), randomized controlled (n = 1), pre-and post-analysis (n = 1), ecological (n = 1), survey analysis (n = 1). Three (16%) studies used qualitative methodology. Sample sizes for studies ranged from n = 18 to n = 616,148 participants. Participants were recruited from various settings, including university-afﬁliated clinics or research sites, Title X clinics, and Planned Parenthood Clinics. One study extrapolated data for secondary analysis from the New York Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System . Most studies were conducted across multiple regions in the country or nationally (n = 4, 21%) [17,51–53] or in the Mideast region (i.e., Delaware, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) (n = 4, 21%) [54–57]. Three studies were conducted in the Southeast regions (i.e., Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) [58–60]. Fewer studies were conducted in Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming; n = 1)  and Plains region (e.g., Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota; n = 2) [61,62]. The majority of studies (n = 13, 68%) explicitly evaluated all three LARC methods (Hormonal IUD, Copper IUD Non-hormonal, and subdermal contraceptive implant). Five studies (26%) evaluated only hormonal (/LNG-IUD) and non-hormonal (/Copper-IUD) LARCs only. One study deﬁned the contraceptive methods they examined as LARCs without naming speciﬁc devices . The majority of studies focused on LARC uptake (n = 11, 58%) by adolescent populations. Three studies (16%) explicitly assessed LARC continuation by adolescents. Two studies (11%) reviewed only LARC prevalence through a national survey database which did not explicitly collect initiation or continuation. These results are listed and described in Table 1. 3.2. Age Nearly all studies (n = 17, 89%) speciﬁed participants’ ages, ranging from ages 13–25 (our inclusion criteria was age 13–28). One study included participants from “menarche” but did not specify the exact age minimum for inclusion . One study included high school students but did not specify their ages . 3.3. Race & Ethnicity More than half of the studies analyzed race and/or ethnicity (n = 13, 68%), and five measured ethnicity and race as separate constructs [17,39,61,63,64]. In one study , race and ethnicity were excluded to protect confidentiality, given that the study was a small focus group. Meanwhile, eight studies reported operationalizations of combined race/ethnicity or only race or only ethnicity categories [51,53–56,60,62,65]. Twelve studies reported participants who identified as White (i.e., Caucasian, non-Hispanic White, White) [17,39,51,53–55,60–65], eleven reported including participants who identified as Black or African-American (i.e., Black, African-American, non-Hispanic Black) [17,39,51,53–55,60–63,65], and thirteen reported including participants who identified as Hispanic and/or Latino (i.e., Hispanic or Latino, Hispanic, Latino, Latina) [17,39,51,53–56,60–65]. Only four studies explicitly reported on their inclusion of Asian and/or Pacific Islander participants, one on American Indian/Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian [39,63–65]. Notably, one study  speciﬁed the breakdown of Asian-identiﬁed participants (i.e., predominantly Filipino and Japanese) and Paciﬁc Islanders (i.e., Micronesian, Mar- shallese, and Samoan), a reporting practice that was not speciﬁed elsewhere in the literature. As the authors noted, the study’s location in Hawai’i and the sociopolitical categories around identity inﬂuenced data collection and reporting. Nine studies reported an addi- Adolescents 2023, 3 252 tional “Other” category for race [39,51,53–55,61–64]. Operationalization of race and/or ethnicity in four studies was derived a priori from standardized tools, including the Na- tional Survey of Family Growth (n = 1), Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (n = 1), and Electronic Medical Health systems (n = 2). 3.4. Gender, Sex, and Sexuality All studies reported, in some terms, the sex or gender of participants. Of all the studies reviewed, 100% (n = 19) used the terms female and/or male to refer to participants. Some studies used the terms women or women and men in addition to reporting on females and/or males. No studies provided sources for the determination of gender operationalization. While no studies directly reported on the sexuality of participants, one article  excluded participants with same-sex partners from the analysis of LARC counseling and LARC use. 3.5. Social Determinants of Health Table 2 summarizes the results of the SDOH factors authors found in this review. Nineteen studies (100%) examined factors in the age, sex, and constitutional tier of the Dahlgren and Whitehead rainbow model [17,39,51–67]. Five studies (26%) of the stud- ies included measured individual lifestyle factors (e.g., substance use, sexual activity, and behaviors) [51,53,60,64,67]. Seven studies (37%) examined factors in the social and community networks tier (e.g., marital status, partner ’s opinions and support of con- traception use, religious afﬁliation, having social support, and the inﬂuence of social networks) [51,53,56,57,60,61,64]. Of the nineteen studies reviewed, all (100%) examined participants’ living and working conditions (e.g., having access to health insurance, salary, federal poverty level, or level of education) [17,39,51–67]. Seven studies (37%) explicitly examined general socio-economic, cultural, and environmental conditions (e.g., state Medi- caid expansion, public LARC education initiative) [17,39,51,52,56,61,62]. Table 2. Social Determinants and LARC Use Identiﬁed in Included Studies versus Levels of Dahlgren and Whitehead Model. Dahlgren and Whitehead Model Levels Social Determinants Geographical area  Public LARC education  State with Medicaid expansion  General socio-economic, cultural, and environmental conditions Private funding for LARC [39,61,62] WIC usage in the area *  Internet and media  Health services [39,51,52,54–62,64–67] Health insurance/payor status ** [39,51,53–56,61–64] Living and working conditions Education [17,53,56,61,62] Income/Federal Poverty Level [39,53,61,62] Marital/partner status [51,53,61,64] Sex partner opinion/experience [56,60] Social and community networks Social support and inﬂuence [56,57] Religion  Substance use (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, drugs)  Individual lifestyle factors Sexual and reproductive factors [51,53,64,67] Age 17, [39,51–67] Age, sex, and constitutional factors (nonbiological, Sex 17, [39,51–67] physiologic, or genetic) Race and/or ethnicity [17,39,51,53–56,60–65] Biological [17,39,51,53–57,59–65,67] Born outside of the US  * WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is an American federal assistance program of the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture for healthcare and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of ﬁve and was used a proxy for birth rates in low socio-economic status populations. ** Payor is an entity that pays for services by a healthcare provider, including employer-based health insurance, services paid or reimbursed by the military for service members or veterans, grant funding, or others. Adolescents 2023, 3 253 4. Discussion This study draws from the ﬁrst and second authors’ larger study on measuring and operationalizing the social determinants of LARC use in the US in adults 18 years or older . Consistent with previous ﬁndings that focused on SDOH among adults in the US, this study found systematic issues with the measurement and operationalization of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender . Studies included in the current study did represent greater regional geographic representation by including Hawai’i. 4.1. Race and Ethnicity Researchers must acknowledge the importance of racism and ethnocentrism, not only race and ethnicity, as factors that shape health status  and use person-centered ways to measure and report on participant identity and experiences of identity. Moreover, research on LARCs and SDOH among young people must also acknowledge the intersections of classism, gender, ageism, racism, and ethnocentrism. For example, many young Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who can become pregnant are scrutinized based on overlapping, reinforcing stereotypes of low-income, young people of color as irresponsi- ble, sexually permissive, and prone to risky behavior, including sexually risky behavior. Mann (2013) notes how community health centers have focused on preventing pregnancy in Latina youth in the name of addressing the problematic sexual behaviors of an at-risk population, at the expense of inclusive, comprehensive interventions that might empower youth healthcare patients and their providers to confront structural inequities shaping their reproductive lives . Limited operationalization and reporting on race and/or ethnicity can inhibit accurate reporting of health inequities due to confounding between race and ethnicity and other variables such as class and nationality . Other guidelines that may improve the quality of SDOH and LARC use research in adolescents and young people include: A. The purposeful study design (e.g., noting the limitations of using racial categories; B. A hypothesis-driven analysis (e.g., not assuming race is a driving factor relevant to the study hypothesis); C. Not pathologizing or medicalizing race (e.g., not using white as a reference group, which can normalize the idea that non-white groups are “other”) and; D. Acknowledging intersectional identities (e.g., examining models within racial groups . These techniques may be essential for research with adolescents and young adults, as the language around identity is shifting and dynamic and may be different for adolescents and young adults than other age groups (e.g., use of the terms Latinx and Latine) . One study in this review  acknowledged their operationalization of race and ethnicity as a limitation, noting that “the demographic data of race and ethnicity were collected from electronic health records, which may not represent the self-identified racial identity of all patients. For example, while 23% of persons in Hawai’i identify as being of mixed race, the electronic health record permits only one race/ethnicity identification per patient” (p. 7) . In line with recent calls for medical research to acknowledge the problematic and harmful legacy of racial hierarchies (often justiﬁed in and through self- proclaimed medical science), we see the previous language as an example of how scholars can engage with demographics critically. Additionally, a minority of studies in our review used qualitative or mixed methods. Increasing the number of rigorous qualitative or mixed-methods studies on the social determinants of LARC use among young people may improve our understanding of youth patients’ lives as these methods (e.g., interviewing, focus groups) more readily allow participants to discuss their identities in their own terms, with the developmental stages of adolescence and emerging adulthood in mind . 4.2. Gender, Sex, and Sexuality One issue we noted throughout this review was the conﬂation of sex and gender as constructs, threatening construct validity and precision of ﬁndings . ACOG recognizes Adolescents 2023, 3 254 health disparities related to systemic discrimination against gender minorities . How- ever, none of the studies identiﬁed data collection that would allow for expansive identity outside of the binary of male and female. Meanwhile, the Institute of Medicine promotes expansive measurement for gathering demographic data on gender and sexual identity . Failing to measure or report on sexual orientation and gender-diverse people who use LARCs prohibits researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from accounting for nuanced ways that SDOH inﬂuences the accessibility of LARC uptake and use. 4.3. Social Determinants of Health The authors suggest that based on the results of this review, there is growing literature on SDOH and LARC in adolescents and young adults. Given the sensitivity of contraceptive use to social factors and the importance of addressing SDOH to achieve health equity, this literature base is an encouraging one for public health. Meanwhile, research on LARC uptake and use in adolescents and young adults systematically fail to measure many socio- economic, environmental, and cultural barriers to accessing or choosing LARC. Without capturing critical information such as family support, insurance status, policy factors, transportation, healthcare providers, and staff-level factors, it is impossible to clearly understand the impacts of SDOH on adolescent and young adult decision-making and access to LARC for pregnancy prevention and reproductive autonomy. 4.4. Future Research Future research can reﬁne and expand the operationalization and measurement of race, ethnicity, sexuality, sex, and gender, as well as SDOH, by using tools that have been standardized with health equity in mind. The PhenX Toolkit is one such tool that offers a variety of measures that experts have created across demographics and all levels of SDOH . In addition, using standardized questions and responses, available data can be better used in future meta-analyses, further enhancing the potential understanding of LARC uptake and use with intersectional identities and multilayered SDOH. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses increase the accessibility of evidence . Furthermore, by locating, assessing, and drawing out major themes and ﬁndings, they can provide essential information about current evidence and areas that need to be developed for decision- makers at all levels of practice . Additionally, research that provides a more robust analysis of the barriers to adolescent LARC uptake can better inform future interventions to increase accessibility and self-determination. 5. Conclusions LARCs can be an effective and accessible tool for adolescent and young adult birthing people who wish to prevent pregnancy, among other health and personal concerns. In- terventions to promote LARC are needed to address SDOH barriers to access, including ﬁnancial barriers, access to skilled and specialized providers, and education about efﬁcacy. However, research evaluating LARC uptake and continuation must purposefully and accu- rately measure race, gender, sex, and sexuality. Minoritized populations face additional intersectional hurdles to reproductive autonomy that must be considered and measured in LARC research. Future research on LARC can leverage contemporary measurement tools for demographics and SDOH as well as qualitative work to allow participants to self-identify to ensure all racial, ethnic sexual, and gender and sex-expansive identities are included in the data used to design interventions, policy, and planning related to LARC use for young people and adolescents. Supplementary Materials: The following supporting information can be downloaded at: https:// www.mdpi.com/article/10.3390/adolescents3020018/s1, File S1: Search Strategy. Author Contributions: Conceptualization, M.M.D. and C.P.; methodology, M.M.D.; software, C.P., M.M.D., A.P.G., S.C. and O.I.; formal analysis, C.P. and M.M.D.; writing—original draft preparation, C.P., M.M.D., A.P.G. and S.C.; writing—review and editing, C.P., M.M.D., A.P.G. and S.C., project Adolescents 2023, 3 255 administration, C.P., funding acquisition, M.M.D., investigation, C.P., M.M.D., A.P.G., O.I. and S.C.. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript. Funding: This research was internally funded by Tulane Meta-Analysis Systematic Review Support (MARS) Program. Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable. Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable. Data Availability Statement: The data presented in this study are available in Figure 1, Table 1, and Supplementary Materials. Acknowledgments: The authors acknowledge the support provided by Tulane Librarian Laura Wright and Tulane research scientist Samantha O’Connell for support with the study design. Further- more, the authors acknowledge support with formatting from a graduate assistant and Master of Social Work student at the University of Southern Mississippi, Suzanne Sanders. Conﬂicts of Interest: The authors declare no conﬂict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to publish the results. Appendix A Appendix A contains the Adapted JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist for Analytical Cross-Sectional Quality Assessment with speciﬁc questions used. Updated Checklist 1. Were the criteria for inclusion in the sample clearly deﬁned? 2. Were the study subjects and the setting described in detail? 3. Was the social determinant of health measured in a valid and reliable way? 4. 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Adolescents – Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Published: Mar 30, 2023
Keywords: gender equity; health equity; health disparities; adolescent health; social determinants of health; long-acting reversible contraceptives; LARC; intrauterine device; IUD; implant
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