Background: Expanded patient access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is needed to support patient choice and access to efficacious forms of contraception. Little is known about nurse practitioner (NP) and midwife LARC prescribing.
Aims: To examine LARC prescribing by NPs and midwives in Australia.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme dispensing data from 2018 to 2021 for females aged 15–54. Age‐standardised rates were calculated by state, remoteness area, and level 3 statistical areas (SA3s).
Findings: Despite a 1.6 fold increase since 2018, NPs and midwives accounted for 0.82 % (n = 2184) of prescriptions for LARC dispensed in 2021. The percentage of services in 2021 was greater in outer regional (2.21 %) and lowest in major cities (0.68 %) and was higher for the implant (0.92 %) compared with the hormonal intrauterine device (0.76 %). The proportion of total SA3s where a NP/midwife prescribed LARC increased from 23.35 % in 2018 to 29.94 % in 2021. NP/midwife LARC prescribing was highest in outer regional (42.6 %) and lowest in remote areas (18.8 %). When stratified by state/territory, coverage of SA3s was highest in Australian Capital Territory (50.0 %) and lowest in the Northern Territory (11.1 %).
Discussion and conclusion: Our findings suggest that whilst there has been an increase in NP and midwife LARC prescribing, the overall rate remains low and coverage across Australia appears fragmented. NPs and midwives are well placed to enhance women's access to efficacious forms of contraception, but this requires future efforts to identify and address critical barriers (e.g. legislative, funding, training) to service provision.
- Intrauterine device
- Long-acting reversible contraception