Factors associated with contraceptive use in a rural area in Western Cape Province

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South African Medical Journal

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BACKGROUND: Safe and effective contraceptive use can substantially improve women's reproductive health. Although the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in South Africa is comparable to rates globally, inequalities in CPR affect poor and rural women. This study aimed to determine the CPR and factors associated with contraceptive use in a rural district of Western Cape Province. METHOD: Cross-sectional survey data based on 412 face-to-face interviews with female participants between 18 and 44 years of age were collected in 2006 for a primary fetal alcohol syndrome prevention study in a rural district in Western Cape Province. The study used effective contraception (ECC) as the outcome variable. ECC included use of oral contraceptives, condoms, injectables or sterilisation. Independent variables included socio-demographic factors, substance use, psychosocial factors, community factors, childbearing characteristics and partner characteristics. RESULTS: Women were more likely to use ECC if they reported high self-esteem (compared with low or moderate self-esteem (prevalence risk ratio (PRR)=1.23; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.99 - 1.53); if they strongly or moderately agreed that their culture entitled men to make decisions regarding child-bearing compared with those who disagreed (PRR=1.28; 95% CI 0.96 - 1.71); and if they had one child or more compared with no children (PRR=1.62; 95% CI 1.24 - 2.11). CONCLUSION: The CPR for sexually active women in this study was low at 39.3%. To promote contraceptive use in similar rural populations, family planning programmes should focus on increasing men's approval of contraception, improving partner communication around family planning and bolstering women's confidence in their reproductive decision-making, and particularly their self-esteem. There should be greater focus on nulliparous women.