Assessing the Influences on Rural Women’s Reproductive Life Plans: A Cross Sectional Descriptive Study


Purpose:  This study explored the influences on rural women’s reproductive life planning (RLP).

Methods:   Thirty rural, non-pregnant, English-speaking women, age 18-35 years, living in two Northern California counties participated in a cross-sectional descriptive study based on the Health Promotion Model (HPM).  Data were collected in a local beauty salon using an iPad and an anonymous on-line survey, which included basic demographic information, reproductive plans, contraceptive use, pregnancy readiness, and usefulness of the survey. 

Findings:   Participants were predominantly single, white, educated, religious, long-term rural residents with health insurance, regular healthcare providers, and a desire to have children in the future.  Although most felt they would feel “very happy” or “fairly happy” if they were pregnant now, 64% reported they were not ready or unsure if ready for a pregnancy.  Forty seven percent were currently using contraception and 81% reported a history of using birth control.  Reasons for discontinuing contraception included side effects (80%), dislike of the method (58%), and/or forgot to use it (32%).  Reasons for never having used contraception included a personal health issue and confidentiality concerns.  Eighty percent reported religion played some role in of their daily lives.  The majority provided positive feedback regarding the understandability and usefulness of the survey.

Conclusions:  Results support RLP usefulness and acceptability among rural women, consistent with the HPM.  Further research is indicated examining the observed discontinuity of sexually active women reporting they do not want to get pregnant, yet are not using contraception; the influence of religious/spiritual beliefs on reproductive planning; and the effectiveness of reproductive life planning in reducing unplanned pregnancies.  Nurses, with a focus on person/family-centered health promotion, should serve as leaders in promoting reproductive life planning.  Policy implications include instituting culturally-tailored RLP as a reimbursed component of care that is routinely provided by nurses and other health care providers.

Keywords:  Reproductive life planning, rural, women, Health Promotion Model


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