Background: The Copper T intrauterine device (IUD) is a safe, effective, reversible contraceptive that is used widely worldwide but little in South Africa. This study assesses the knowledge, attitudes and practices of potential IUD users and health care providers to inform strategies for expanding IUD use in South Africa.
Study design: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was conducted among 205 clients and 32 health care providers at 12 public sector clinics in two provinces.
Results: Twenty-six percent of clients had heard of the IUD; of those, 9% had misconceptions or incorrect information that negatively influenced their opinion of the method. After being given a description of the Copper T IUD, 74% said they would consider using it. Provider knowledge about Copper T IUDs was inaccurate and inadequate. Providers held incorrect beliefs about IUD candidate selection and risks. Almost all providers said that they needed more training and information about the IUD.
Conclusion: If IUD use is to be expanded in South Africa, potential users will need education about the method and providers will need training on counseling and provision.
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