- Fertility preference
- Spousal discordance
To assess spousal agreement levels regarding fertility preference and spousal communication, and to look at how it affects contraceptive use by couples.
We conducted a cross-sectional study to collect quantitative data from March to May 2010 in Jimma zone, Ethiopia, using a multistage sampling design covering six districts. In each of the 811 couples included in the survey, both spouses were interviewed. Concordance between the husband and wife was assessed using different statistics and tests including concordance rates, ANOVA, Cohen’s Κ and McNemar’s test for paired samples. Multivariate analysis was computed to ascertain factors associated with contraceptive use.
Over half of the couples wanted more children and 27.8% of the spouses differed about the desire for more children. In terms of sex preference, there was a 48.7% discord in couples who wanted to have more children. At large, spousal concordance on the importance of family planning was positive. However, it was the husband’s favourable attitude towards family planning that determined a couple’s use of contraception. Overall, contraceptive prevalence was 42.9%. Among the groups with the highest level of contraceptive users, were couples where the husband does not want any more children. Spousal communication about the decision to use contraception showed a positive association with a couple’s contraceptive prevalence.
Family planning programs aiming to increase contraceptive uptake could benefit from findings on spousal agreement regarding fertility desire, because the characteristics of each spouse influences the couple’s fertility level. Disparities between husband and wife about the desire for more children sustain the need for male consideration while analysing the unmet need for contraception. Moreover, men play a significant role in the decision making concerning contraceptive use. Accordingly, involving men in family planning programs could increase a couple’s contraceptive practice in the future.