Published August 23, 2021
UB School of Nursing PhD student Samantha Auerbach was co-author on a study, “Validation of the short-form reproductive coercion scale with Appalachian women,” that was recently published in Contraception, an international reproductive health journal.
The researchers sought to investigate the psychometric properties of the short-form Reproductive Coercion Scale (RCS) among a sample of Appalachian women. Reproductive coercion is behavior, typically perpetrated by an intimate partner, that interferes with autonomous reproductive decision making, and including pregnancy coercion and contraceptive interference. The RCS scale is a tool used to assess reproductive coercion.
“As a clinician, I know how difficult it can be to adequately screen for reproductive coercion in a short clinical visit due to the highly sensitive nature of the questions and the time and trust needed to create a space for the patient to share their experiences,” Auerbach says. “This may be especially true in an Appalachian population, where sexual and reproductive health care is difficult to access and is increasingly pushed into general primary care, if offered at all.”
This work represents one of the many projects Auerbach’s team has been working on using data from a sexual and reproductive health survey of Appalachian residents. Women in Appalachia experience disproportionately worse reproductive health outcomes compared to their non-Appalachian counterparts, as evidenced by increased unintended pregnancy, higher rates of infant mortality, and elevated rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome. In addition to these reproductive health disparities, women in Appalachia commonly experience interpersonal violence and barriers to reproductive health care.
“Validating the shortened version of the scale in this population may encourage clinicians to incorporate this tool in their general health assessments and start having these much-needed conversations,” Auerbach adds. “I am proud to contribute to work that can improve the health and promote reproductive autonomy in this Appalachian population.”
Auerbach co-authored the article with Kafuli Agbemenu, UB School of Nursing; Laura Swan, Virginia Commonwealth University; Travis Hales, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and Gretchen Ely, University of Tennessee.
“This work is an important contribution to the reproductive coercion and autonomy literature as it provides validation for a clinically relevant tool for assessing reproductive coercion, and does so in a population that has been historically excluded from such research,” Agbemenu explains.
“The SON greatly values interdisciplinary research and this team collaboration is an excellent example of how such research can be successful,” she adds.