Being ready, willing and able: understanding the dynamics of family planning decision-making through community-based group discussions in the Northern Region, Ghana

Biney, Adriana A. E.; Wright, Kalifa J.; Kushitor, Mawuli K.; Jackson, Elizabeth F.; Phillips, James F.; Awoonor-Williams, John K.; Bawah, Ayaga A.

Regional contraceptive use differentials are pronounced in Ghana, with the lowest levels occurring in the Northern Region. Community-based health services, intended to promote maternal and child health and family planning use, may have failed to address this problem. This paper presents an analysis of qualitative data on community perspectives on family planning “readiness,” “willingness,” and “ability” compiled in the course of 20 focus group discussions with residents (mothers and fathers of children under five, young boys and girls, and community elders) of two communities each in two Northern Region districts that were either equipped with or lacking direct access to community health services. The study districts are localities where contraceptive use is uncommon and fertility is exceptionally high. Results suggest that direct access to community services has had no impact on contraceptive attitudes or practice. Widespread method knowledge is often offset by side-effect misperceptions. Social constraints are prominent owing to opposition from men. Findings attest to the need to improve the provision of contraceptive information and expand method choice options. Because societal acceptance and access in this patriarchal setting is critical to use, frontline worker deployment should prioritize strategies for outreach to men and community groups with prominent attention to social mobilization themes and strategies that support family planning.

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December 20, 2022


Family planning, Community-based primary health care, Fertility decline, Rural Ghana