Unintended pregnancy influences racial disparity in Tubal sterilization rates

Sonya Borrero, Charity G. Moore, Li Qin, Eleanor Schwarz, Aletha Akers, Mitchell D Creinin, Said A. Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Minority women are more likely than white women to choose tubal sterilization as a contraceptive method. Disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy may help explain observed racial/ethnic differences in sterilization, but this association has not been investigated. Objective: To examine the associations among race/ethnicity, unintended pregnancy, and tubal sterilization. Design and Participants: Cross-sectional analysis of data from a nationally representative sample of women aged 15-44 years [65.7% white, 14.8% Hispanic, and 13.9% African American (AA)] who participated in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Main Measures: Race/ethnicity, history of unintended pregnancy, and tubal sterilization. A logistic regression model was used to estimate the effect of race/ethnicity on unintended pregnancy while adjusting for socio-demographic variables. A series of logistic regression models was then used to examine the role of unintended pregnancy as a confounder for the relationship between race/ethnicity and sterilization. Key Results: Overall, 40% of white, 48% of Hispanic, and 59% of AA women reported a history of unintended pregnancy. After adjusting for socio-demographic variables, AA women were more likely (OR: 2.0; 95% CI: 1.6-2.4) and Hispanic women as likely (OR: 1.0; 95% CI: 0.80-1.2) as white women to report unintended pregnancy. Sterilization was reported by 29% of women who had ever had an unintended pregnancy compared to 7% of women who reported never having an unintended pregnancy. In unadjusted analysis, AA and Hispanic women had significantly higher odds of undergoing sterilization (OR: 1.5; 95% CI: 1.3-1.9 and OR: 1.4; 95% CI: 1.2-1.7, respectively). After adjusting for unintended pregnancy, this relationship was attenuated and no longer significant (OR: 1.2; 95% CI: 0.95-1.4 for AA women and OR: 1.3; 95% CI: 1.0-1.6 for Hispanic women). Conclusion: Minority women, who more frequently experience unintended pregnancy, may choose tubal sterilization in response to prior experiences with an unintended pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Minority women
  • Tubal sterilization
  • Unintended pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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