Conversations about contraceptives: qualitative evidence of fear of side effects as a barrier to modern contraceptive use among Ghanaian women
At British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference.
10 - 12 Sep 2008.
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Quantitative studies have highlighted that fear of side effects acts as a barrier to the use of modern methods; however this remains an ill defined and poorly understood concept. The overall contraceptive prevalence rate is relatively low in Ghana at 20.7% for all women aged 15-49 in 2003. According to the 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS), fear of side effects was the most cited method-related reason for non-use among all women who are not currently using contraception and say they do not intend to do so in the future. Fear of side effects has increased in importance as a reason for non-use between 1998 and 2003, from 18% to 26%.
This study uses data from focus group discussions to explore in greater depth the concept of fear of side effects and to determine on what information and from what sources is this fear constructed and reveal how the individuals concerned understand and articulate these issues. The theoretical framework within which this study is situated is diffusion of innovation theory. The key explanatory element is the spread of information about family planning impersonally through the mass media or inter-personally through discussion between members of a social network.
The results show that much of the information about family planning passed through informal social networks is negative and is about the potential side effects of contraception. Most of this information is based on someone's personal experience of expected side effects and therefore cannot be easily dismissed as 'rumour' or 'misinformation'
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