Side effect concerns and their impact on women's uptake of modern family planning methods in rural Ghana: a mixed methods study.
BACKGROUND:Despite availability of modern contraceptive methods and documented unmet need for family planning in Ghana, many women still report forgoing modern contraceptive use due to anticipated side effects. The goal of this study was to examine the use of modern family planning, in particular hormonal methods, in one district in rural Ghana, and to understand the role that side effects play in women's decisions to start or continue use. METHODS:This exploratory mixed-methods study included 281 surveys and 33 in-depth interviews of women 18-49 years old in the Amansie West District of Ghana between May and July 2018. The survey assessed contraceptive use and potential predictors of use. In-depth interviews examined the context around uptake and continuation of contraceptive use, with a particular focus on the role of perceived and experienced side effects. RESULTS:The prevalence of unmet need for modern family planning among sexually active women who wanted to avoid pregnancy (n = 135) was 68.9%. No factors were found to be significantly different in comparing those with a met need and unmet for modern family planning. Qualitative interviews revealed significant concerns about side effects stemming from previous method experiences and/or rumors regarding short-term impacts and perceived long-term consequences of family planning use. Side effects mentioned include menstrual changes (heavier bleeding, amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea), infertility and childbirth complications. CONCLUSION:As programs have improved women's ability to access modern family planning, it is paramount to address patient-level barriers to uptake, in particular information about side effects and misconceptions about long-term use. Unintended pregnancies can be reduced through comprehensive counseling about contraceptive options including accurate information about side effects, and the development of new contraceptive technologies that meet women's needs in low-income countries.
Schrumpf, LA; Stephens, MJ; Nsarko, NE; Akosah, E; Baumgartner, JN; Ohemeng-Dapaah, S; Watt, MH
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