Contraceptive unmet needs in low and middle-income countries: A systematic review

Idesi Chilinda, Alison Cooke, Tina Lavender


Contraceptive use in sub-Saharan Africa remains low, with a minimal rise from 23.6% to 28.5% between 2008 and 2015. Unmet needs for contraception remain a public health concern in low and middle-income countries. The objectives of this systematic review were to explore the perceptions of women and men accessing family planning services; and the perceptions of healthcare professionals delivering family planning services in low and middle-income countries. Literature search was limited to studies published in English in the period from 2000 to 2017. Thirty studies included in this review were identified from CINAHL, BNI, EMBASE, PsycINFO, MIDIRS and MEDLINE databases. A narrative synthesis, was adopted to synthesise the findings. Findings indicate a lack of awareness of contraception amongst women and men. Experienced and perceived side effects of contraceptives influence contraceptive continuation and discontinuation. Evidence from this review points to the need for awareness of contraception to dispel myths and misperceptions regarding modern contraception. (Afr J Reprod Health 2021; 25[2]: 162-170).

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