Health workers' outreach and intention to use contraceptives among married women in India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: The influence of health workers on uptake of maternal healthcare services is well documented; however, their outreach for family planning (FP) services and influence on the intention to use contraceptives is less explored in the Indian context. This study examined the extent of health worker outreach for FP service and its effects on intention to use contraceptives among currently married women aged 15–49 years. Methods: This study used data from two rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of India, conducted during 2005–06 and 2015–16 respectively. Bivariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression were used to understand the level of and change in health worker outreach for FP services over time, and its association with intention to use contraceptives among currently married women. Results: In the past 10 years, health workers’ outreach for FP service has significantly increased by about 10 percentage points, although the level is not optimal and only 28% of non-users were reached by health workers in 2015–16. Increase in the outreach to younger and low parity women was higher than their respective counterparts. Intention to use contraceptive among women who were not using any method was 41% when health workers contacted and discussed FP, compared to only 20% when there was no such contact with health workers. Multivariable analysis suggests that contact with health workers has significant positive effects on intention to use contraceptive (AOR = 3.05; p < 0.001; 95% CI 2.85–3.27). Conclusion: Increased scope of outreach of frontline health workers to provide FP communication and services will not only help in building knowledge of contraceptive methods but will also increase women’s intention to use a method. For India, this may be the most promising way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 3.7, which calls for universal access to reproductive health services.