Far too many women continue to die from pregnancy and childbirth related causes. While rates have decreased in the past two decades, some areas of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa continue to have very high maternal mortality rates. One intervention that has been demonstrated to decrease maternal mortality is use of family planning and modern contraception, yet rates of use in sub-Saharan countries with the highest rates of maternal death remain very low.
To review available research and summarize the factors that inhibit or promote family planning and contraceptive use among refugee women and women from surrounding areas living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
A review of the literature.
Cochrane Library, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), OVID, power search, and PubMed databases.
Studies included were: (1) published in English from 2007 to present; (2) primary research; and (3) focused on family planning and contraceptive use among refugee women and women in surrounding areas. Findings were discussed within the framework of the Interaction Model of Client Health Behavior.
Twelve studies met the inclusion criteria. Utilization of modern contraceptive methods was low. Women were socially influenced to avoid the use of contraceptives by husbands and others in the community. Reasons were a lack of trust in western medicine and the desire to have large families. Low socioeconomic status and proximity of family planning clinics were barriers to access. Women believed that health care providers were unqualified, many described being treated with disrespect in the health clinics. Knowledge and understanding of contraceptives was low; while most women knew different methods were available, there were many misconceptions. Believing that certain contraceptives cause death, infertility and side effects, contributed to fear of use. This lack of knowledge and fear, even with the desire to space and limit births, affected motivation to use contraception.
Developing new approaches to educating women, men (husbands), community leaders as well as healthcare providers is needed to address the multi-factorial issues that contribute to underuse of family planning services, thus contraceptive use.
Implications for practice
While lack of access to family planning is a barrier to use, interventions that improve access must be affordable and include education regarding contraceptive methods, preferably from those within the community. However, education and access is not sufficient unless the issue of disrespect by healthcare providers is addressed. Respectful and culturally sensitive care for all women, regardless of socio-economic status or country of origin, must be provided by midwives and other women health providers.
Family planning; Modern contraceptives; Refugee; Sub-Saharan Africa; Women