Journal Article

Ambivalence in pregnancy intentions: The effect of quality of care and context among a cohort of women attending family planning clinics in Kenya

Ambivalence in pregnancy intentions is well-documented in sub-Saharan African (SSA) settings and has been associated with inconsistent use of contraception, thereby exposing women using contraception to the possibility of unintended pregnancies. A better understanding of the potential role for client counseling interventions in enabling women to achieve their pregnancy intentions is essential for aiding program efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies.

To measure ambivalence in pregnancy intentions longitudinally and determine its association with the quality of care received, controlling for demographic, socio-economic and contextual factors among a cohort of family planning (FP) clients in Kenya.

This paper uses data drawn from a prospective cohort study of FP clients to investigate the relationship between the quality of care received during FP service delivery and the decisiveness of their pregnancy intentions over time. The study tests the hypothesis that higher quality of care enables women to be less ambivalent about their pregnancy intentions. Binary logistic regression with random effects and multinomial logistic regression were used to assess the predictive effect of the quality of care received by a woman on the decisiveness or ambivalence of her pregnancy intentions, and on any shifts in ambivalence over time, controlling for background characteristics. The study recruited 1,957 women aged 15–49 years attending twelve family planning clinics in four counties in Central Kenya; of these, 1,053 women were observed for four rounds of data collection over a period of 24 months and form the sample for analysis.

A substantial proportion (43%) of women expressed ambivalence about their intentions to become pregnant at some point during the study period, while over half (57%) remained unequivocal throughout the study. Almost one third of women (31%) shifted from being unequivocal to ambivalent and 12% shifted from ambivalence to being unequivocal. Women experiencing higher quality of care have lower odds of ever expressing ambivalence and higher odds of remaining unequivocal over time, net of other factors. Quality of care was not associated with a shift in ambivalence over time.

FP programs offering higher quality of care are likely to support women to be more decisive in their pregnancy intentions. Improving the quality of care can contribute to reduced ambivalence and consequently reduced likelihood of unintended pregnancy among contraceptive users. This study provides further evidence of the benefits gained through providing high quality services.