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BWell addresses feedback on contraception

Students call for more info on contraceptive choices, Brown insurance coverage, confidentiality

In response to student feedback on sexual health resources provided last month, BWell Health Promotion will launch an outreach campaign aiming to improve informational materials on health insurance and increase student awareness about the sexual health services and contraception offered on campus.

Members of the Sexual Health Education and Empowerment Council sent BWell Health Promotion — a branch of Health Services designed to support individual and community well-being — student feedback from a March 17 Sex Week discussion on access to contraception at Brown. Feedback from the event, entitled “Plan A, B or C: Do YOU Have an Option? (Access to Contraceptives),” was intended to inform Health Promotion of student concerns over sexual health resources, availability of particular contraceptives and patient confidentiality.

The event was one of several late-night confidential workshops that brought together a small group of students to discuss socioeconomic background and different students’ access to contraception and sexual health services, said SHEEC co-chair Alexandra Sepolen ’16.

“It was a dialogue about what happens specifically at Brown, and it was mainly for students who may not be readily considered for conversations about sexual health, since aspects of identity, such as gender and socioeconomic position, do impact sexual identity,” Sepolen said.

The student feedback included concerns that results from testing services would be sent home, uncertainty about which services Brown student health insurance covers and which contraceptive methods Health Services offers and recommendations to provide more comprehensive sexual health and consent workshops.

Health Services and Health Promotion have addressed each recommendation, responding to SHEEC with new initiatives, such as a plan to create a brochure on insurance coverage and confidentiality, a campaign to promote the contraceptive methods Student Health offers and improved orientation programming.

“There is a student-written brochure called the ‘Little Brown Book’ on STIs and safer sex, and we want to create a companion booklet that would address the issue of contraceptives with (the Sexual Health Awareness Group’s) help,” said BWell Health Educator Naomi Ninneman. Health Promotion is partnering with SHAG to convey the information from a student’s perspective and in a student’s voice, Ninneman said.

Other ideas to help inform students about available resources include adding or revising presentations given during orientation and ensuring that residential peer leaders are well-informed on these issues. In its response to SHEEC, Health Promotion suggested making available more information about the University’s student health insurance policies at Sex@Brown, a preexisting orientation event led by Alexis Saccoman ’04.

Cindy Capra, a nurse practitioner at Health Services, said Health Services faces the challenges of both distributing information to students who are new to campus and continually providing information to all students.

“It’s a work in progress,” Capra said. “We always want to make things improve.”

Ninneman said Health Services can be a valuable resource for navigating major concerns over what services Brown health insurance covers and student confidentiality.

“The insurance piece can be complicated, but coming to see us doesn’t need to be,” she said. “We can help you out with the complicated part.”


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