The relevance of ethnic monitoring in the experience of Haringey Healthcare NHS trust community family planning clinics

E Christopher
British Journal of Family Planning 1999, 24 (4): 123-7
Ethnic monitoring of all new and first attenders in the year to community family planning clinics was carried out by means of an anonymous questionnaire during April to June 1997 inclusive to ascertain whether ethnic minority women attend family planning clinics. A 73 per cent response rate (2664 questionnaires) was obtained. The results showed that women came from a wide variety of ethnic groups and from almost every country in the world. Those of UK European origin were underrepresented. For 28 per cent of women, English was not their first language. A total of 66 languages were recorded. Sixty two per cent (1673) of all the women were between 20 and 34 years. Overall half of all the women attending did not have children. Though in some ethnic groups most women were parous, less than 20 per cent of Caribbean (born Caribbean) West African and Turkish Cypriot women and only six per cent of Turkish/Kurdish women born in Turkey had not had children. Thirty three per cent of women admitted to having had one or more terminations although there was only a 90 per cent response rate to this question. While between 20 and 25 per cent of United Kingdom, EEC and non EEC European and black British women had had one or more abortions, 49 per cent of West African, 43 per cent of Kurdish and 40 per cent of Turkish Cypriot women had had one or more abortions. The lowest percentage of women admitting to a termination were Irish (12 per cent). The majority of women did choose a method or methods of contraception. The oral contraceptive pill and the condom were the most popular methods, often being used together The method used was influenced by age and ethnicity. Younger women opted for 'the pill' while older women chose the intrauterine device. The combined pill and condom were relatively equally popular with UK, Irish, EEC European, Caribbean (born Caribbean, born UK) and 'other' groups of women; while the intrauterine device was the favoured method of Kurdish/Turkish women born in Turkey. Depo-Provera was used principally by UK, European, Caribbean (born Caribbean, born UK) and African (West and East) women. Twelve per cent of women were recorded as not using a method. These women might have attended for a pregnancy test, cervical smear, advice about general health, gynaecological problems, though this was not specifically recorded. These women featured in all age groups. While a third were UK European, two thirds were of other ethnic groups. This would appear to illustrate that those women do seem to be aware that family planning clinics can provide services in addition to supplying contraceptive methods. It was noted that the Kurdish/Turkish women favoured one particular clinic sited in the ante natal department of the local hospital (the North Middlesex) where linkworkers are available. They accounted for 34 per cent of those who attended (128 out of 371). However at all but one of the clinic sites, which are spread around the borough, the UK European group was in a minority ranging from 20 to 47 per cent in attendance, compared to other ethnic groups. It is proposed that ethnic monitoring will be routinely recorded from April 1998 for new and first time attenders. It is also planned to work more closely with various ethnic minority groups in the community.

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