Oral Contraceptive Use Along the US-Mexico Border (ICPSR 34500)

Principal Investigator(s): Potter, Joseph E., University of Texas-Austen. Population Research Center


Oral contraceptives (OCs) are one of the most effective, safe, and widely-used contraceptive methods available to women worldwide. The United States differs from many other countries in that women still need a healthcare provider's prescription, often requiring an examination, to purchase OCs. Policy debate about the prescription requirement has focused on whether women could safely and effectively use oral contraceptives without mandatory contact with a healthcare provider. This project explored the following questions: whether women can screen themselves for contraindications; the degree to which the prescription requirement dissuades OC candidates from starting or continuing OC use; and whether written and other forms of information are an effective substitute or improvement on clinician contact. The study was fielded along the heavily traversed US-Mexico border separating Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. This setting provided a unique "natural experiment" environment in which to address these questions due to the fact that El Paso residents can, and frequently do, cross the border to purchase OCs in Mexican pharmacies, where prescriptions are not required.

Access Notes

  • These data are not available from DSDR. Users should consult the data owners directly for details on obtaining these resources.

Study Description


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    birth control, family planning, prescription drugs

Geographic Coverage:    Chihuahuah, Ciudad Juavez, El Paso, Global, Mexico, Texas, United States

Data Collection Notes:

These data are not available from DSDR or ICPSR. Researchers should consult the principal investigator directly for details on obtaining access to the data and documentation:

Dr. Joseph E. Potter

Population Research Center

University of Texas-Austin

1 University Station G1800

Austin, TX 78712

email: joe@prc.utexas.edu