Changes in use of hormonal long‐acting reversible contraceptive methods in Australia 2006 – 2018

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Changes in use of hormonal long‐acting reversible contraceptive methods in Australia between 2006 and 2018: A population‐based study

Abstract:

Background

Long‐acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are promoted internationally as a key strategy for reducing unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.

Aims

To examine trends in use of hormonal LARCs among reproductive‐aged women in Australia between 2006 and 2018 and explore trends according to age groups and state/territory of dispensing.

Materials and Methods

Retrospective population‐based study using Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) dispensing claims of a 10% random sample of females aged 15–44. We investigated rates and annual trends in dispensing claims of etonorgestrel implant and levonorgestrel intrauterine systems (IUS).

Results

Between 2006 and 2018, annual PBS claims for LARCs increased approximately two‐fold from 21.7 to 41.5 per 1000 women, with a plateau observed from 2015 onward. Absolute rate increases were similar for the implant (9.0/1000) and IUS (10.8/1000), with increases observed across all age groups and states/territories. Overall dispensing rates varied by two‐fold according to state/territory of dispensing and four‐fold according to age groups. Rate increases for the implant were highest among the 15–19 and 20–24 age groups, while rate increases for the IUS were highest among the 35–39 and 40–44 age groups. It is estimated that in 2018, 10.8% of women aged 15–44 were using a LARC; 4.5% for the implant and 6.3% for the IUS.

Conclusions

Rates of hormonal LARC use have doubled over the past decade. Investigating underlying reasons for the large observed differences in rates of use according to age and state/territory could help further improve uptake for these most effective methods of contraception.

By J Pope

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