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Fam Plann Perspect. 1974 Winter;6(1):50-5.

Birth control and the private physician: The view from Los Angeles.



In an effort to elucidate how physicians in the Los Angeles area regard family planning services and how they actually make them available to their patients, a mail survey of a sample of physicians was undertaken in the summer of 1972. Of the 992 questionnaires sent out, 628 usable questionnaires were returned. 70% of the physicians indicated that they believe birth control provision should be a standard service. The highest level of support came from ob-gyns, 85% of whom said they believe it should be standard. This shows a rise since 1957 when 1 study reported that only 29% of nonCatholic physicians and 4% of Catholic physicians believed that birth control provision should be a standard medical service. A study by Silver in 1971 found that 62% of those sampled said it should be standard. The Los Angeles physicians showed some reluctance in initiating discussion of birth control. If requested, 80% would provide help to female minors with parental consent, compared with 54% who would initiate advice to unwed sexually active minors. More than 80% of the internists and more than 90% of the other specialists indicated that they have assisted patients by referral or otherwise in receiving sterilization. About 90% of the ob-gyns and GPs and about 2/3 of the internists and urologists believed that they were adequately qualified to provide birth control services. 5 questions probing the physicians' knowledge of the relative safety, effectiveness, and legality of various birth control methods raised some question as to whether the doctors did not overestimate their qualifications. 1 example of this was that when asked to rank the theoretical effectiveness of oral contraceptives, diaphragm with jelly, vaginal foam, and postcoital douche, almost 1/4 of the specialists failed to give the correct response.

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