Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/13/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

M. Kathleen Clark

Second Advisor

Lioness Ayres


The purpose of the study was to examine reproductive life planning practices among Title X family planning health care providers and clinical staff. Reproductive life planning is a program priority for Title X clinics, those that receive federal money for providing family planning services to low-income women and men. The goal of reproductive life planning is to decrease unwanted and unintended pregnancies and improve preconception health care however; this practice has not been described. First, a conceptual analysis was conducted to create a definition of reproductive life planning that was consistent with the literature. Reproductive life planning is a process that is centered on reproductive and other life goals and is personalized, collaborative, fluid, and focused on health-promotion.

Second, a mixed methods design was used to examine reproductive life planning practices and qualitative interviews were conducted to explore barriers and facilitators to implementing reproductive life planning practices. Data were obtained from health care providers and clinical staff employed at Title X clinics in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and North Dakota. A total of 148 clinicians completed a web-based survey which was analyzed to describe which types of patients, the topics covered, and the frequency with which reproductive life planning was discussed during an office visit. Surveys were then examined to identify 20 providers to conduct qualitative interviews with to further explore reproductive life planning practices. The qualitative interviews were also performed to explore the barriers and facilitators clinicians face to practicing reproductive life planning.

The results of the web-based questionnaire were examined mainly with medians and frequencies to examine reproductive life planning practices. Qualitative interviews were coded using a content analysis approach to two aims; one to examine how reproductive life planning was using during clinic visits and two, to identify the barriers and facilitators clinicians face when discussing reproductive life planning with patients.

Findings from the survey and the interviews suggest that most clinicians are discussing pregnancy intentions with their patients. However, from the interviews, three types of scope of reproductive life planning emerged; those clinicians who screened their patients’ pregnancy intentions, those who planted the seed in the patient’s mind, and those who explored the context of a patient’s life and their goals to contextualize how pregnancy and childbearing would fit into their lives in order to clarify pregnancy intention and move toward the corresponding health behaviors. It is argued that the third group of providers is using reproductive life planning as intended by experts. Finally, barriers to RLP discussions were examined as well as approached providers used to overcome the barriers.

In conclusion, many clinicians are practicing reproductive life planning as intended, however many are not. Improved training and protocols are needed to ensure clinicians are providing their patients with the best reproductive life planning discussions. Additionally, systemic structures, like access to quality family planning services, need to be improved to aid clinicians in helping their patient plan their families.


Family planning, Health care providers, Preconception health, Pregnancy intention, Reproductive life plan, Title X


xii, 179 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 170-179).


Copyright © 2017 Stephanie Westlake Edmonds

Available for download on Saturday, July 13, 2019

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