Empowering Women or Involving Men? Couple and Provider Perceptions of Couple Services

Rebecka I. Lundgren, Georgetown University
Suzanne Schweikert
Katie Lavoie, Georgetown University

Although research suggesting couple communication positively effects contraceptive use has spurred interest in a couple-approach to family planning, the desirability of this approach is controversial. This paper presents results from research testing couple-focused family planning services. Formative research with clinic personnel and 100 clients and their partners revealed that while male involvement was valued, respondents perceived a conflict between promoting women’s autonomy and encouraging shared responsibility for contraception. Data from 48 mystery client visits show that providers rarely address couple issues. Baseline data consisting of interviews with 200 women and their partners immediately after adopting a method and three months later reveal that men are significantly more interested in a couple-approach than women, most of whom express a preference for private counseling. Further, women underestimate men’s interest in receiving information and counseling. Findings suggest most couples make birth control decisions jointly and partner opinion often influences contraceptive decisions.

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Presented in Poster Session 1