To gain a clearer understanding of the attitudes of homeless women towards contraception in central London.
Homeless women are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. This makes it imperative to address the health needs of this population. Evidence regarding the obstacles homeless women face when using contraception and accessing sexual/reproductive care is sparse, and almost non-existent in the United Kingdom (UK). American research has identified past experiences of women suffering side effects and their fear of serious health risks as deterrents of sustained contraceptive use among this population.
This study used convenience sampling and semi-structured face-to-face interviews. During the interview, a topic guide was used to ensure data relevant to the study aim were being collected. In total, 14 English-speaking women, previously street homeless and/or living in temporary accommodation from two homeless shelters located in central London, were interviewed.
In summary, the results suggest this group of study respondents find ongoing access to advice on contraception services difficult largely because of their homelessness. This pre-eminent factor alongside their vulnerability inevitably means that other issues take precedence on a daily basis. Furthermore, issues such as individual choice of contraception and the perceptions of this group of women to health professionals ultimately determine whether women receive the services they need. Bearing in mind the paucity of studies in this area of homelessness, the results point to the need for more research and to the allied question ‘how is it best to provide contraceptive services to those women who find themselves homeless?’