Although infertility affects an estimated 6.1 million individuals in the United States, only half of those individuals seek fertility treatment and the majority of those patients are White and of high socioeconomic status. Research has shown that insurance mandates are not enough to ensure equal access. Many workplaces, schools, and medical education programs have made efforts in recent years to improve the cultural humility of providers in efforts to engage more racially and economically underrepresented groups in medical care. However, these efforts have not been assessed on a population of patients receiving fertility care, an experience that is uniquely shaped by individual social, cultural, and economic factors.
This study aimed to better understand the racial, cultural, economic, and religious factors that impact patient experiences obtaining fertility care.
A cross-sectional self-administered survey was administered at an academic fertility center in Chicago, Illinois. Of 5000 consecutive fertility care patients, 1460 completed the survey and were included in the study sample. No interventions were used. Descriptive univariate frequencies and percentages were calculated to summarize sociodemographic and other relevant patient characteristics (eg, race or ethnicity, age, household income, religious affiliation, insurance coverage). Rates of endorsing perceived physician cultural competency were compared among demographic subgroups using Pearson chi-squared tests with 2-sided P<.05 indicative of statistical significance. To identify the key determinants of patient-reported worry regarding 9 different fertility treatment outcomes and related concerns, a series of multiple logistic regression models were fit to examine factors associated with patient report of being “very worried” or “extremely worried.”
Members of our sample (N=1460) were between 20 and 58 years of age (meanadjusted, 36.2; standard deviation, 4.4). Among Black participants, 42.3% reported that their physician does not understand their cultural background compared with 16.5% of White participants (P<.0001). Participants who identified as Latinx were significantly more likely than White participants to report being very/extremely worried about side effects of treatment, a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, and birth defects (P<.05, P=.02, P=.002, P=.001, respectively). Individuals who identify as Hindu were nearly 4 times more likely to report being very/extremely worried about experiencing an ectopic pregnancy than nonreligious participants (P<.0002). Respondents most strongly identified the biology or physiology of the couple (meanadjusted, 21.6; confidence interval, 20.4–22.7) and timing or age (meanadjusted, 27.8; confidence interval, 26.5–29.1) as being associated with fertility. Overall, respondents most strongly disagreed that the ability to bear children rests upon God’s will (meanadjusted, 65.4; confidence interval, 63.7–67.1), which differed most significantly by race (P<.0001) and religion (P<.0001).
Of the patient characteristics investigated, racial and ethnic subgroups showed the greatest degree of variation in regard to worries and concerns surrounding the experience of fertility treatment. Our findings emphasize a need for improved cultural humility on behalf of physicians, in addition to affordable psychological support for all patients seeking fertility care.
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Published online: February 19, 2021
Accepted: February 10, 2021
Received in revised form: February 9, 2021
Received: September 28, 2020
The authors report no conflict of interest.
The authors report no funding sources.
Cite this article as: Galic I, Swanson A, Warren C, et al. Infertility in the Midwest: perceptions and attitudes of current treatment. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2021;225:61.e1-11.
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