Original Research

Experiences of women, men and healthcare workers accessing family planning services in Malawi: A grounded theory

Idesi T. Chilinda, Alison Cooke, Dame T. Lavender
South African Family Practice | Vol 62, No 1 : Part 3| a5153 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v62i1.5153 | © 2020 Idesi T. Chilinda, Alison Cooke, Dame T. Lavender | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 June 2020 | Published: 07 October 2020

About the author(s)

Idesi T. Chilinda, Department of Community Health, University of Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi
Alison Cooke, Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Dame T. Lavender, Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

Abstract

Background: The importance of modern contraceptive methods in averting unwanted pregnancies has been acknowledged in Malawi. Currently, the country has registered the highest rates of unsafe abortions, unmet needs for contraception and a low contraceptive prevalence rate. Understanding why these rates exist is important. However, women’s views and experiences regarding uptake of family planning methods in Malawi have not been explored.

Methods: A grounded theory methodology was used. Data were gathered through in-depth interviews with women (n = 18), men (n = 10), healthcare workers (n = 10) and non-participant observations of family planning clinic consultations (n = 10). Data were analysed using constant comparative technique. Methods of open, axial and selective coding enabled subsequent conceptualisations until theoretical saturation occurred.

Results: The core category ‘disenabling environment prevents women’s family planning needs from being met’ provides an understanding of women’s, men’s and healthcare workers’ experiences of contraceptive use and non-use. The disenabling environment contributed to shaping women’s family planning experiences. This was supported by three main categories: navigating the processes, disempowerment of women and learning by chance.

Conclusion: Findings from this study illuminate contextual issues into how women, men and healthcare workers experience family planning use and non-use in Malawi. A multifaceted strategy is required to support a woman’s family planning needs. At community level, awareness and education of family planning methods is required to actively inform all people in society so that they support a woman’s family planning needs. At national level, laws that would empower women with decision-making ought to be developed and enforced.


Keywords

family planning; contraception; unmet needs; Malawi; grounded theory; experiences; women; healthcare workers; men.

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