Journal Article

Mass media exposure and use of reversible modern contraceptives among married women in India: An analysis of the NFHS 2015–16 data

Since the inception of the National Programme for Family Planning, messages on family planning (FP) have been promoted across India using different mass media platforms. Mass media plays an important role in disseminating important information among the masses, such as how reversible modern methods give women more reproductive choices than opting for permanent methods that limit their child-bearing capacity. Mass media can provide a continuous flow of information and motivation to deter women from discontinuing the methods they have opted for. However, very few studies have been conducted on this issue, especially using recently available data. This study particularly focuses on exposure to mass media and the use of reversible modern methods of family planning among married women in India. The data for this study was obtained from the National Family Health Survey (2015–16) on currently married women aged 15–49 years. The association of reversible modern method use with media exposure variables was examined, controlling for a set of independent variables from multiple levels—individual, district, state, and region. The findings from this study showed that television was the most important medium for disseminating information on FP among married women in India. Spatial analysis revealed that some districts in the north, parts of the northeast, and Kerala in South India lacked any television exposure. The results from the decomposition analysis showed that mass media exposure was associated with a 14% increase in the use of reversible modern methods. Results from the multilevel analyses showed that exposure to TV along with other media (AOR 1.57 95% CI 1.49–1.65) and exposure to FP messages through different media (AOR 1.22 95% CI 1.12–1.32) had a significant positive effect on the use of reversible modern methods even when various individual, district, state, and regional-level factors were controlled. The findings of this paper provide evidence supporting the use of mass media to promote and increase awareness of voluntary contraceptive use in India. An increase in mass media exposure coupled with improvement in coverage and services of the FP program can significantly increase the use of reversible modern methods in a cost-effective yet efficient manner among women in need of FP services.