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Distance Matters: Geographic barriers to long acting reversible and permanent contraception for homeless women Veterans.

Gawron LM, Pettey WBP, Redd AM, Suo Y, Turok DK, Gundlapalli AV. Distance Matters: Geographic barriers to long acting reversible and permanent contraception for homeless women Veterans. Journal of social distress and the homeless. 2019 May 22; 28(2):139-148.

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Women Veterans who experience homelessness are at high risk of unintended pregnancy and adverse outcomes. Contraception could mitigate risks, yet access barriers exist across the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). We identified all US women Veterans, age 18-44y with evidence of homelessness in VHA administrative data between fiscal years 2002-2015, in order to document the geographic distribution of ever-homeless women Veterans in relation to VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) and assess geographic associations between long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) or permanent contraception (PC) use. We calculated VAMC travel distance from last known ZIP Code. We used multivariate logistic regression models to explore contraceptive method associations. We included 41,722 ever-homeless women Veterans; 9.2% had LARC exposure and 7.5% PC. We found 29% of ever-homeless women Veterans resided > 40miles from the nearest VAMC and increasing drive distance was negatively correlated with contraceptive exposure, especially for Veterans residing > 100miles from a VAMC. Increasing distance to the nearest VAMC results in a geographic barrier to the most effective contraceptive options for women Veterans. The VHA is uniquely positioned to leverage its rural and homeless healthcare expertise to address geographic barriers and integrate comprehensive contraceptive services into established programs for high-risk Veterans.

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