Patient-provider power relations in counselling on long-acting reversible contraception: a discursive study of provider perspectives

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Contraceptive providers play an essential role in shaping contraceptive decision-making and care, with the potential to constrain patients' agency. This is a particular concern given the rising hegemony of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) and growing evidence of negative patient experiences of LARC promotion and provision. Despite this evidence, little research has considered health providers' perspectives. Drawing on interviews with 22 contraceptive health providers in Aotearoa New Zealand, this paper explored their professional identity construction, focusing on meaning-making in instances of conflict between providers' and patients' priorities and agendas. Guided by feminist poststructuralist theory, the discursive analysis highlights common rhetorical strategies used by participants to (1) justify the use of coercive practices to encourage LARC uptake, and (2) in turn, negotiate positive identities. Findings show how participants grapple with the reproductive politics structuring contraceptive care, including established understandings of the purpose of (long-acting) contraception and contraceptive providers' roles vis-à-vis provision and promotion. The findings point to limitations on contraceptive agency, despite the unanimous endorsement of rights-based voluntary care. Extending the critical literature on LARC and contributing to the under-researched area of contraceptive coercion and agency, the findings of this study have important implications for the delivery of contraceptive care.
Long-acting reversible contraception, agency, contraceptive counselling, critical discursive analysis, decision-making, healthcare providers
Cult Health Sex, 2022, pp. 1 - 17