HumanInsight Telemedicine to improve reproductive health care for rural Coloradans: Perceptions of interest and access
J Rural Health. 2022 Jul 13. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12697. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: To evaluate rural Colorado women's access to and preferences for receiving reproductive health care services.
METHODS: We conducted an online survey of women ages 18-45 years old. We mailed recruitment postcards to a random sample of female, registered voters in rural Colorado zip codes. Survey questions assessed experiences, beliefs, and preferences regarding reproductive health care. We performed bivariate statistics and logistic regression for predictors of interest in telemedicine.
FINDINGS: Respondents (n = 478) had a median age of 34 years (range 18-45). Most women identified as White (90.2%) and were insured (67.1% private; 20.5% public). Most (74.1%) noted barriers to obtaining reproductive care in their communities. Those who reported barriers cited a median of 3 barriers (range 1-8), most commonly too few community-based providers (81.4%) and long distance to care (69.5%). Among respondents, 51.0% had used telemedicine before and 52.5% were interested in using telemedicine for reproductive health services. Interest in telemedicine significantly differed by perceived difficulty accessing care, previous telemedicine use, traveling over 100 miles for medical care in the last year, and belief in the safety of abortion. Those interested in telemedicine were less likely to value having an established relationship with providers and face-to-face visits.
CONCLUSIONS: Most reproductive-aged, rural Colorado women endorsed barriers to obtaining reproductive health care in their communities. Over half of rural women are interested in using telemedicine for reproductive health care; however, many are not. Both optimizing telemedicine and developing additional innovative solutions are needed to improve access to reproductive care in rural communities.
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