Contraceptive Pearl: Best Practices for Developing Contraception Patient Education

By Silpa Srinivasulu, MPH

Increasing access to accurate, easy-to-understand information about contraception can help people take action and make informed health care decisions. RHAP develops its patient education materials to ensure they are easily understood and actionable. We follow the International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS)* to produce quality materials that:

  • Provide facts about contraception, including options and method features
  • Help people clarify their values, such as understanding the features that matter most to them
  • Promote a patient-centered care plan by empowering people to share their values and preferences with their clinicians.¹

We aim for resources to be at a sixth-grade reading level or lower. To evaluate the reading level, we use and report the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test. The National Institutes of Health and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also provide useful guidelines for writing in plain language and ensuring meaningful and user-centered content, such as: using active voice and familiar words, organizing content clearly and visually, reducing the use of adjectives and adverbs, using first-person and second-person pronouns when appropriate, and incorporating illustrations, visuals, and white space.

We field-test newly developed materials, including new translations, with end-users: clinicians and patients. We ask them knowledge questions related to the content of the resource and if they liked how the information was presented, if the language was easy to understand, if they now know what to expect when making a decision about the resource topic, and if they have suggestions for improvement.

As RHAP works to combat misinformation and improve access to reproductive health information and care, we’re looking at creative ways to expand access to accurate, evidence-based, easily understood, and engaging education. We’ve started a series of social media animations, like on Emergency Contraception Pills and Telehealth Medication Abortion. We also aim to co-create resources with partners who have lived experience with the communities these materials are meant to serve. For example, we are developing an illustrated factsheet on different positions for pelvic exams based on our Contraceptive Pearl, informed and illustrated by disability justice advocates. Lastly, our team is working on making patient education PDF documents more accessible to colorblind and low-vision users by ensuring the PDFs are legible and clear and that they fully incorporate alternative text and tags based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

*The IPDAS checklist assesses the quality of patient education materials, with principles like providing information about options in sufficient detail for decision-making, presenting information and possibilities of outcomes in an unbiased and understandable way, including methods for clarifying and expressing patients’ values, using up-to-date scientific evidence, using plain language (grade level six or under), having a systematic development process, and ensuring decision-making is informed and values-based.²

RHAP Resources:

Your Birth Control Choices Fact Sheet
Let’s Talk About Emergency Contraception Pills

Reproductive Health Access Project Store


1. International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS) collaboration. 2004. Accessed January 9, 2024.

2. Stacey D, Volk RJ; IPDAS Evidence Update Leads (Hilary Bekker, Karina Dahl Steffensen, Tammy C. Hoffmann, Kirsten McCaffery, Rachel Thompson, Richard Thomson, Lyndal Trevena, Trudy van der Weijden, and Holly Witteman). The International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS) Collaboration: Evidence Update 2.0. Med Decis Making. 2021;41(7):729-733. doi:10.1177/0272989X211035681


The Reproductive Health Access Project does not accept funding from pharmaceutical companies. We do not promote specific brands of medication or contraception. The information in the Contraceptive Pearls is unbiased, based on science alone.

Sign-up to Receive Contraceptive Pearls Monthly!

If you enjoyed this Contraceptive Pearl, sign up to have them delivered to your inbox! Contraceptive Pearls are released on the third Tuesday of every month!