Promoting healthy spacing between pregnancies in India: Need for differential education campaigns

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: Birth spacing intervals are relatively short in India. Healthy spacing of 3–5 years between births is an effective way to prevent maternal and child mortality and morbidities. Socio-cultural and structural barriers, including limited awareness, socio-cultural norms, and misconceptions need to be addressed for behavior change. Hence the objective was to understand these barriers and accordingly develop separate messages for young women, her husband and her mother-in-law. Methods: Data were collected from young women, husbands and mothers-in-law using qualitative methods. Altogether 16 Focus Group Discussions and 30 in-depth interviews were conducted. Beliefs related to need of spacing, disadvantages of closely spaced pregnancies and messages considered suitable for different stakeholders were investigated. Messages were identified for women, husband and mother-in-law; communication aids prepared and community workers trained to appropriately communicate the messages to stakeholders. Quantitative data were collected to measure the effect of the intervention. Results: Educational campaign resulted in higher use of contraceptives for spacing among registered pregnant women from experimental area compared to control area. Conclusion: Differential audience specific educational campaign is feasible and effective. Practice implications: For an effective communication in the community, workers should know how exactly to convey the different health messages to different target population.