Assessing the acceptability of NORPLANT implants in four countries: findings from focus group research

Stud Fam Plann. 1990 Mar-Apr;21(2):92-103.


In 1986-87, a qualitative research project was conducted in the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, and Thailand to expand understanding of the acceptability of NORPLANT contraceptive implants beyond inferences made on the basis of continuation rates. In each of the four study sites, focus group discussions or in-depth interviews were held with potential acceptors, current NORPLANT users, discontinuers, husbands of women in these three groups, and service providers. Nonclinical participants generally had little formal education and lived primarily in urban or semi-urban areas where NORPLANT has been available for at least five years. The study focused on attitudes, perceptions, and experiences of each group regarding NORPLANT implants. Results suggest that factors having an impact on the acceptability of NORPLANT implants fall into three general categories: medical/technical, cultural/religious, and informational/educational. This article discusses each of these categories, including programmatic implications of the findings, and puts forward recommendations for enhancing NORPLANT introduction efforts on the basis of these findings.

PIP: In 1986-87, a qualitative research project was done in Thailand, Egypt, Indonesia, and the Dominican Republic to expand knowledge of the acceptability of NORPLANT contraceptive implants beyond continuation rates. In each of the 4 studies, in-depth interviews or focus group discussions were held with current NORPLANT users, potential acceptors, discontinuers, husband of women in the 3 groups, and service providers. The 4 countries were chosen because of their diverse cultures and religions. Most participants favored family planning. Many had used other contraceptives. Men and women in all countries were worried that oral female contraceptive agents (the pill) caused cancer. There were many objections to the IUD. In all countries but Thailand, there was little knowledge of NORPLANT. In the Dominican Republic, NORPLANT was used mostly as a child spacing method. In Indonesia, it was used for child spacing and termination of childbearing. Perceived advantages were alike in all countries. Pain during insertion and removal was a big concern of potential users. Men and women in all countries said that religion and traditional beliefs did not influence their family planning decisions. But many said that religion influenced their tolerance of side effects. In Egypt and Indonesia sterilization is unpopular because it is seen as violating Islamic law. Irregular bleeding was the major side effect and the main reason for discontinuation. Many satisfied users felt that the advantaged outweighed the side effects. Primary reasons for removal in all countries were irregular bleeding, amenorrhea, and the desire to give birth. The need for information was mentioned in all countries. In Egypt, Indonesia, and Thailand services providers reported the need for more thorough training in insertion and removal as well as continuing education sessions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female* / adverse effects
  • Culture
  • Dominican Republic
  • Drug Implants
  • Egypt
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indonesia
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Male
  • Norgestrel / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Thailand
  • Urban Health


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Drug Implants
  • Norgestrel
  • Levonorgestrel