PATH can help clarify your patients’ reproductive goals and needs. It is designed to yield a maximal amount of relevant information in an efficient way. Once your patient has verbalized their current attitudes about their own reproduction you can offer conversations about pre-pregnancy care, contraception, and fertility, as appropriate.
What is PATH?
Healthcare providers can comprehensive reproductive health by applying principles of patient-centered care. PATH is designed as a patient-centered framework with a shared-decision making model to be used with patients of any demographic without judgement.
PATH is an acronym:
PA --> parenting/pregnancy attitudes
T --> timing
H --> how important delaying pregnancy is
PATH asks the following three questions:
1) “Do you think you might like to have (more) children at some point?”
2) “When do you think that might be?”
3) “How important is it to you to prevent pregnancy (until then)?”
Follow up questions include:
"Since you have said_____, would you like to talk about ways to be prepared for a healthy pregnancy?"
"Do you have a sense of what’s important to you about your birth control?"
"How would that be for you?"
"Has that ever happened before?"
"How did you manage it?"
PATH facilitates active listening on the part of the provider which is paramount for patient-centered care and ultimately to ensure that patient’s voices are heard. Principles of patient-centered care applied with PATH inform equitable interactions that aim to help patients gain clarity about their reproductive goals, and support them in realizing those goals.
The purpose of the PATH framework is to:
Support a person's reproductive autonomy and agency.
Help people gain clarity about what they want in terms of reproduction so they can make choices that are aligned with their goals.
Re-frame people's thinking to focus on their future rather than their current partner or sexual experiences.
Let the person know that your priority is helping them figure out what is important to them.
Allow the person time to explore their thoughts and feelings about reproduction.
Build rapport by letting them know you are listening.
Inform the provider about the direction of the visit (offering to discuss pre-pregnancy care, fertility support, and contraception).
The purpose of the PATH framework is NOT to:
Give the provider information so they can decide which intervention or contraceptive is best for the patient.
Create a concrete plan that the patient should commit to.
Make the patient feel like they "should" have a "plan."