Ongoing challenges impede efforts to improve the quality of family planning services in underserved communities, which by definition lack sufficient numbers of physicians and other health professionals. Challenges to improving the quality of family planning services include financing difficulties, lack of standards, training deficiencies, as well as little understanding and attention to patient preferences. The objectives of this study were to explore female patients’ preferences for family planning services in underserved areas and to develop a framework to help providers improve patient-centered care. The methodology for this paper included mixed methods research including a survey of women between the ages of 18 and 44 in 19 underserved communities (n=1868) across the United States and qualitative research involving 16 focus groups (n=103) to explore patient preferences and experiences with family planning services. Descriptive statistics of survey items and thematic analysis of transcripts were utilized to analyze study data. Triangulation of data sources and methods resulted in an overall framework for patient-centered family planning care. The results show women in underserved areas identified important aspects of family planning care as: relationship with provider, communication, confidentiality in receiving care, provider competence, service access and convenience. The conclusion suggests improving patient-centered care for family planning services could improve outcomes by increasing patient return for follow up care, patient pursuit of other primary and preventive care services, continuation rates of contraceptive method, and higher contraceptive use. Achieving patient-centered family planning care will require investments in human capital and technology, modifications in clinic operations, and an organizational culture focused on patient preferences and experience.

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