Family planning training at Catholic and other religious hospitals: a national survey

Maryam Guiahi*, Stephanie Teal, Kimberly Kenton, Julie DeCesare, Jody Steinauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Catholic and other faith-based hospitals often restrict family planning service provision based on institutional doctrine. Approximately 11% of US accredited obstetrics and gynecology residency programs occur at such hospitals, creating a challenge to educational leaders who must ensure comprehensive family planning training. Objective: To evaluate and summarize family planning training at obstetrics and gynecology residency programs that are affiliated with Catholic and other faith-based hospitals that restrict reproductive services. Materials and Methods: Using an online database search and survey screening questions, we identified 30 of 278 accredited 2017–2018 programs in which at least 70% of resident time is spent in faith-based hospitals that restrict family planning services; Jewish programs were excluded. We queried program leaders between March 2017 and April 2018 about education and training using an online or paper survey, and asked them to report on training settings, provision of family planning services in such settings, and to rate aspects of training as “poor,” “adequate,” or “strong.” We compared responses at Catholic versus other faith-based programs using Fisher exact tests, χ2 analyses, and median tests. Results: Among 30 programs, 25 responded (83%); the majority of respondents were program directors (88%) and represented Catholic hospitals (76%). All reported adequate contraceptive training, with 47% of Catholic programs relying on off-site locations. The majority of Catholic sites (84%) relied on off-site sterilization training sites. Survey respondents from Catholic programs most commonly endorsed concerns for inadequate training in postpartum tubal ligations (53% of Catholic respondents versus 0% of other faith-based program respondents, P =.05). Approximately one-half (56%) offered abortion training as part of the curriculum (“routine”), 32% offered residents the opportunity to arrange training (“elective”), and 12% did not offer; the majority (84%) relied on off-site collaborations. Catholic sites were more likely than other religious programs to report poor abortion training (47% versus 0%, P =.04). Five Catholic programs (26% of Catholic programs) reported that their residents did not meet the graduate training requirement for completion of 20 dilation and curettage procedures. One-third reported a prior Residency Review Committee family planning citation(s), and many commented that these citations helped provide leverage for improved training. Conclusion: Although Catholic and other restrictive, faith-based obstetrics and gynecology residency training programs have developed strategies in response to institutional restrictions, many report ongoing deficiencies, and almost one-half reported they were noncompliant with abortion training requirements. Programs with deficient trainings may benefit from strategic approaches, including enhanced onsite education and collaborations with off-site facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Catholic
  • contraception
  • faith-based
  • family planning
  • gynecology/education
  • induced abortion
  • obstetrics and gynecology
  • religious hospitals
  • residency
  • resident education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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