Disability and Reproductive Health during COVID-19 is a research study about the reproductive health of women and trans people with disabilities living in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Why conduct this research study?

The United Nations has documented the devastating impact of COVID-19 on reproductive health globally. This impact has been felt most in marginalized groups, including racialized, low socioeconomic status, and rural/remote communities. However, one group for whom the impacts of COVID-19 on reproductive health have received little attention is disabled women.

In Canada, one in five people 15 years and older have a disability, and women (24%) are more likely to have disabilities than men (20%). We know from existing research that women with disabilities experience disparities in reproductive health care, including limited access to sexual health information and family planning services, higher rates of perinatal complications, child custody loss, and intimate partner violence.

There is a need for evidence about the impact of COVID-19 on the reproductive health of women and trans people with disabilities to better inform accessible reproductive health services and better support people with disabilities.

Our research team at the University of Toronto, in partnership with the Disabled Women’s Network (DAWN-RAFH Canada), are addressing this gap. We’re examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the reproductive health of disabled women and trans people in Canada.

 

What is the research about?

We want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the reproductive health care of people with disabilities in Canada. For example, we want to know if there has been restricted access to supports (e.g., sign language interpreters) that facilitate access to reproductive health care; accessibility challenges in shifting to virtual care modalities; barriers to accessing vaccination; and so on.

 

What will the researchers do?

The researchers will collect evidence through:

1. A national survey of women and trans people with disabilities. This survey will help to: (a) describe the overall impact of COVID-19 on reproductive health for women and trans people with disabilities in Canada; and (b) examine the differential impacts of COVID-19 on reproductive health for disabled people by other intersecting social determinants of health (e.g., race/ethnicity, immigrant status, low socioeconomic status).

2. In-depth, semi-structured interviews with women and trans people with disabilities. Interviews will help to: (a) explore the processes by which COVID-19 has impacted reproductive health; and (b) identify opportunities and strategies to build a more inclusive reproductive health service system that meets the needs of women and trans people with disabilities during and beyond the pandemic.

 

What impact will this research have?

This research will ensure that COVID-19 management plans for response and recovery include an accessible, inclusive approach to reproductive health that serves women and trans people with disabilities during and beyond the pandemic.

 

This study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.