Time trends in contraceptive prescribing in UK primary care 2000– 2018: a repeated cross-sectional study

  • 0

© attribution CC-BY

copyright icon





Background Over the last 20 years, new contraceptive methods became available and incentives to increase contraceptive uptake were introduced. We aimed to describe temporal trends in non-barrier contraceptive prescribing in UK primary care for the period 2000–2018. Methods A repeated cross-sectional study using patient data from the IQVIA Medical Research Data (IMRD) database. The proportion (95% CI) of women prescribed non-barrier contraception per year was captured. Results A total of 2 705 638 women aged 15–49 years were included. Between 2000 and 2018, the proportion of women prescribed combined hormonal contraception (CHC) fell from 26.2% (26.0%–26.3%) to 14.3% (14.2%–14.3%). Prescriptions for progestogen-only pills (POPs) and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) rose from 4.3% (4.3%–4.4%) to 10.8% (10.7%–10.9%) and 4.2% (4.1%–4.2%) to 6.5% (6.5%–6.6%), respectively. Comparing 2018 data for most deprived versus least deprived areas, women from the most deprived areas were more likely to be prescribed LARC (7.7% (7.5%–7.9%) vs 5.6% (5.4%–5.8%)) while women from the least deprived areas were more likely to be prescribed contraceptive pills (20.8% (21.1%–21.5%) vs 26.2% (26.5%–26.9%)). In 2009, LARC prescriptions increased irrespective of age and social deprivation in line with a pay-for-performance incentive. However, following the incentive's withdrawal in 2014, LARC prescriptions for adolescents aged 15–19 years fell from 6.8% (6.6%–7.0%) in 2013 to 5.6% (5.4%–5.8%) in 2018. Conclusions CHC prescribing fell by 46% while POP prescribing more than doubled. The type of contraception prescribed was influenced by social deprivation. Withdrawal of a pay for-performance incentive may have adversely affected adolescent LARC uptake, highlighting the need for further intervention to target this at-risk group.