July 14, 2021

Longitudinal survey results show changes over time

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Burkina Faso group of REs

Since 2013, PMA surveys have collected actionable data on a variety of family planning topics that inform policies at national and sub-national levels. In 2019, PMA introduced a new longitudinal panel design to fill a data gap —collecting information from the same women and households over time for regular tracking of progress and for understanding the drivers of contraceptive use dynamics –an approach that is not currently used by other large-scale surveys. Most large-scale surveys are cross-sectional. That is, they visit a different group of women every time.   

Longitudinal panel surveys visit the same women over time, so we can compare answers year to year and see what has changed. The panel design provides unique insights by allowing researchers to measure and examine changes over time for individual women. For example, when we visit a woman for several years in a row, we can understand how changes in her life, like marriage, schooling or having a new baby, impact her family planning needs and choices.  

Panel studies can be used to discover relationships between measures by observing the same women and households over an extended period of time. For example, we have been able to observe women in their households before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, and see how the pandemic impacted their family planning options and choices. We observed how many women changed their plans with respect to their next pregnancy as a result of the pandemic. 

PMA collects data from households, women, health facilities, and family planning clients to better understand levels of use, access, quality and availability of contraception over time. We can observe whether women change the contraceptives they use when facilities in their communities offer new or different methods. Information like this is useful for planners and policy makers to understand demand and uptake of new contraceptive methods.  

Panel studies may be used to show: 

  • Which women adopt a family planning method or discontinue use under which circumstances and at what stage of life.  
  • The changing nature of family planning need, attitudes and behaviors. 
  • How family planning choices and fertility desires may be impacted by various factors, like education, empowerment, and economic status, at different times of a woman’s life. 

Seeing trends over time allows policy makers and programmers to make informed decisions that best meet the needs of their communities. 

Kano and Lagos states in Nigeria are the first PMA countries to release longitudinal survey results. Key findings in Lagos include: 

  • Among women interviewed in both Phase 1 and 2, contraceptive use increased by 6 percentage points. 
  • Among women with an unmet need in Phase 2, 3 in 10 women had discontinued a contraceptive method between Phases 1 and 2. 
  • 78% of those who said they did not intend to use a FP method continued to  be non-users when interviewed in Phase 2. 

Key findings from Kano include: 

  • 5% of all women interviewed in both December 2019 and February 2021 were new users of family planning. Among women 20-24 years old, 8% were new users, while  5% and 3% of women 25-49 and 15-19 years old, respectively, started using a method. 
  • 21% of women who were not using family planning but enjoyed their husband’s/partner’s support for family planning in December 2019 have adopted a method by February 2021. 
  • 17% of women who were not using family planning in December 2019, but intend to use in the next year, adopted a method by February 2021. 

More results will be released soon from PMA countries. Click here for full results from Nigeria.