Effectiveness of a behavior change communication intervention to improve knowledge and perceptions about abortion in Bihar and Jharkhand, India

Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2013 Sep;39(3):142-51. doi: 10.1363/3914213.


Context: Although abortion became legal in India in 1971, many women are unaware of the law. Behavior change communication interventions may be an effective way to promote awareness of the law and change knowledge of and perceptions about abortion, particularly in settings in which abortion is stigmatized.

Methods: To evaluate the effectiveness of a behavior change communication intervention to improve women's knowledge about India's abortion law and their perceptions about abortion, a quasi-experimental study was conducted in intervention and comparison districts in Bihar and Jharkhand. Household surveys were administered at baseline in 2008 and at follow-up in 2010 to independent, randomly selected cross-sectional samples of rural married women aged 15-49. Logistic regression difference-in-differences models were used to assess program effectiveness.

Results: Analysis demonstrated program effectiveness in improving awareness and perceptions about abortion. The changes in the odds of knowing that abortion is legal and where to obtain safe abortion services were larger between baseline and follow-up in the intervention districts than the changes in odds observed in the comparison districts (odds ratios, 16.1 and 1.9, respectively). Similarly, the increase in women's perception of greater social support for abortion within their families and the increase in perceived self-efficacy with respect to family planning and abortion between baseline and follow-up was greater in the intervention districts than in the comparison districts (coefficients, 0.17 and 0.18, respectively).

Conclusions: Behavior change communication interventions can be effective in improving knowledge of and perceptions about abortion in settings in which lack of accurate knowledge hinders women's access to safe abortion services. Multiple approaches should be used when attempting to improve knowledge and perceptions about stigmatized health issues such as abortion.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal*
  • Adult
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Sex Education / organization & administration*
  • Women's Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult