Understanding the determinants of contraceptive discontinuation in Ethiopia: a mixed methods approach

Alexandra Alvergne (University of Oxford)

December 6, 2019, 11:30–12:30


Room A1

IAST General Seminar


Contraceptive discontinuation is a major barrier to reducing global unmet needs for family planning, but the reasons why women discontinue contraception are poorly understood. Here we use data from Ethiopia to investigate (i) the magnitude of contraceptive discontinuation in 2005–2011, (ii) how the risk of discontinuation varies with method type and education level and (iii) the barriers to continuation. Our main hypothesis is that contraceptive discontinuation is driven by the experience of physiological side-effects associated with the use of hormonal contraception, rather than a lack of formal education. We used a mixed methods explanatory sequential design to explain the quantitative results in more details through the qualitative data. First, we analysed quantitative data from the 2011 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey to study patterns of contraceptive discontinuation and method choice using multilevel multiprocess models. Second, we conducted semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions in the 3 most populated regions of Ethiopia with individuals of reproductive age and health professionals. The analysis of EDHS data shows that the rate of discontinuation has not reduced in the period 2005–2011 and remains high. Discontinuation mainly takes the form of abandonment, and is a function of method type, age and wealth but not of educational level. Interviews with women and health professionals reveal that the experience of debilitating physiological side effects, the need for secrecy and poverty are important barriers to continuation. Building on these findings, I will discuss new potential research avenues for the emerging field of evolutionary public health.