Arcadia Receives $25,000 Grant to Study Contraceptive Side Effects in Marginalized Communities

By Dan DiPrinzio | January 12, 2024

Arcadia University received a $25,000 grant from the Society of Family Planning to conduct a mixed-method study on contraceptive side effects, specifically for people of color, and how best to address these issues. 

The study, led by Comfort Z. Olorunsaiye, Ph.D, assistant professor of Public Health, and Dejenaba Gordon, MPH, assistant professor of Public Health, will consist of a cross-sectional survey with 305 women of color and people with other marginalized identities in Greater Philadelphia. In-depth interviews will also be conducted with about 30 people who experienced contraceptive side effects in the last year and 10 clinicians providing contraceptive services in community health centers. The goal is to gather information on contraceptive side effects and generate evidence on how to support people experiencing these side effects through tailored clinical support. 

Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, which provides sexual and reproductive health services in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester Counties, will help with enrollment of patients for this study. Patients will also be recruited from other federally qualified health centers in the Greater Philadelphia area. 

Contraception allows individuals to plan their families and maintain bodily autonomy. However, Black, Brown, and other marginalized people have historically been subjected to racist and unethical origins of gynecology practices. This underlies the current disparities in reproductive health care in the United States and the distrust between medical providers and people of color. 

Slightly more than one-half of births to Black women between 2006 and 2010 were unintended compared with one-third of births to non-Hispanic White women during the same period. Although contraceptive methods can be an important tool for family planning, many people discontinue using them or switch to less effective methods because of side effects. 

Knowing potential side effects of contraceptives and having a clear and accessible process to address them can help with contraceptive decision making and advance reproductive justice, especially in the wake of abortion restrictions and bans in the country.