Journal Article

Information about methods received by contraceptive users in India

Very little is known, at national and state levels, about how much information women in India are receiving about the method of contraception they are using. The purpose of this study was to fill this gap in knowledge. A Method Information Index (MII) was calculated from the responses of women who started using a modern contraceptive method five years prior to interview, and who were still using it at the time of interview, in the third National Family Health Survey conducted in India in 2005–06. The women were asked whether at the time they initiated contraceptive use they were told about other methods they could use, the side-effects of their selected method and what to do if they experienced these side-effects. The MII values (percentages of women who responded ‘yes’ to all three questions) were calculated for each category of women’s characteristics to show the relationship between MII and each characteristic. Mixed-effect logistic regression models were used to assess the independent effect of each variable after controlling for the effects of other variables on MII. The results indicate that contraceptive users in India in 2005–06 were receiving very little information about the method they were using: only 15.6% of contraceptive users reported receiving information on all three items. This low level was prevalent across different socioeconomic strata and across all the major states. There were a few exceptions, but the level was still quite low. Clearly, there is plenty of scope to improve the content of information exchanged between service providers and clients in order to ensure the rights of women to receive services of good quality, as well as improve informed choice and continuity of contraceptive use. Such a focus on improving quality of services is likely to help the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in making its stated transition from a ‘population control centric’ to a ‘reproductive rights based’ approach to family planning in India.