A socioecological perspective to contraceptive access for women experiencing homelessness in the United States

Erika L. Thompson, Annalynn M. Galvin, Ashvita Garg, Anelise Diener, Amber Deckard, Stacey B. Griner, Nolan S. Kline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Although persons who are pregnancy-capable and experiencing homelessness may have a strong desire to avoid pregnancy, they face unique barriers to contraception. This multimethod qualitative study aimed to identify preferences for, barriers to, and facilitators of contraceptive access and use among women experiencing homelessness in the United States using a systems perspective. Study design: We conducted semistructured interviews with women experiencing homelessness (n = 19), healthcare providers (n = 6), and social service providers (n = 6). We recruited participants from community-based, housing, and medical organizations in North Texas in the United States. Two coders conducted thematic analysis and reached consensus for codes. Results: Women participants were in emergency shelter, unsheltered, or transitional/rapid rehousing. We stratified themes using the Socioecological Framework to illustrate factors affecting contraception access at individual, interpersonal, organizational and community, and societal levels. Notable results include women's preferences for long-acting reversible contraception, difficulties healthcare providers face in initiating contraceptive counseling, and the underutilized role of social service providers in reproductive healthcare. Insurance policies, connections between health clinics and community organizations, and organizational priorities both facilitated and hindered women experiencing homelessness's access to women's healthcare services. Conclusion: This study identified opportunities throughout the healthcare and social service systems to support contraceptive access for women experiencing homelessness. Future interventions should strengthen and leverage these connections to promote access among this vulnerable population with the goal of supporting reproductive autonomy. Implications: This study explored the reproductive health needs of women experiencing homelessness. Multilevel interventions, such as interdisciplinary care, patient-centered approaches, and an emphasis on health literacy, are needed to adequately provide the preferred methods of contraception for women experiencing homelessness, thus enabling reproductive autonomy for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109991
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Contraception
  • Homelessness
  • Reproductive health
  • Socioecological
  • Women


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