Women from disadvantaged socio-economic groups access assisted reproductive technology treatment less than women from more advantaged groups. However, women from disadvantaged groups tend to start families younger, making them less likely to suffer from age-related subfertility and potentially have less need for fertility treatment. Whether socio-economic disparities in access to assisted reproductive technology treatment persist after controlling for the need for treatment, has not been previously explored. This population based study demonstrates that socio-economic disparities in access to assisted reproductive technology treatment persist after adjusting for several confounding factors, including age at first birth (used as a measure of delayed childbearing, hence a proxy for need for fertility treatment), geographic remoteness and Australian jurisdiction. Assisted reproductive technology access progressively decreased as socio-economic quintiles became more disadvantaged, with a 15.8% decrease in access in the most disadvantaged quintile compared with the most advantaged quintile after controlling for confounding factors. The adjusted rate of access to assisted reproductive technology treatment also decreased by 12.3% for women living in regional and remote areas compared with those in major cities. These findings indicate that financial and sociocultural barriers to assisted reproductive technology treatment remain in disadvantaged groups after adjusting for need.
- assisted reproductive technology
- socio-economic disparities