September 7, 2021

Is Client Reporting on Contraceptive Use Always Accurate? Measuring Consistency and Change with a Multicountry Study

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Self-reports of sensitive or personal behaviors cannot be avoided when studying sexual activity, contraceptive use or abortion practice, or illicit behaviors. Measures of these outcomes are necessary for understanding their risk factors and determinants. In the family planning field, reliance on national household surveys of women of childbearing age has provided a wealth of insights for decades but requires measurement of reproductive behaviors that may not be accurately reported.

This study addresses the following two research questions using longitudinal data from six large samples of female clients in urban Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), India, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, who consented to being re-interviewed by phone after an in-person exit interview at the attended health facility:

(1) How consistently does a client report her contraceptive use status and method type at baseline interview compared to her retrospective report of that use at follow up four to six months later?
(2) How much change in contraceptive use status and method type is observed based on comparing female clients’ reports: (1) across surveys (baseline and follow-up), and (2) within the follow-up survey only (cross  section)? Related to this, how similar or consistent are the two distributions?