How family planning ideas are spread within social groups in rural Malawi

Stud Fam Plann. 2004 Dec;35(4):275-90. doi: 10.1111/j.0039-3665.2004.00031.x.


Using data from in-depth interviews conducted between March and June 2002 in a rural district of Malawi, this study explores how family planning attitudes and practices spread among members of social groups. Gender differentials are found in how people determine other group members' practices: Men "knew" about such practices from their observations of others' family size and child spacing, whereas women's knowledge was based on their conversations with other women. The discussion topics relating to family planning also varied by sex: Men spoke about the pros and cons of limiting family size, whereas women spoke in detail about types of contraceptive methods, where to get them, their side effects, and covert contraceptive use. For men and women, the main trigger for family planning discussions was gossip. Whereas, generally, women first heard about family planning at the hospital, men stated that their first source of information was the radio or health-drama group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*