Context: Previous studies have identified positive relationships between geographic proximity to family planning services and contraceptive use, but have not accounted for the effect of contraceptive supply reliability or the diminishing influence of facility access with increasing distance.
Methods: Kernel density estimation was used to geographically link Malawi women's use of injectable contraceptives and demand for birth spacing or limiting, as drawn from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, with contraceptive logistics data from family planning service delivery points. Linear probability models were run to identify associations between access to injectable services-measured by distance alone and by distance combined with supply reliability-and injectable use and family planning demand among rural and urban populations.
Results: Access to services was an important predictor of injectable use. The probability of injectable use among rural women with the most access by both measures was 7‒8 percentage points higher than among rural dwellers with the least access. The probability of wanting to space or limit births among urban women who had access to the most reliable supplies was 18 percentage points higher than among their counterparts with the least access.
Conclusions: Product availability in the local service environment plays a critical role in women's demand for and use of contraceptive methods. Use of kernel density estimation in creating facility service environments provides a refined approach to linking women with services and accounts for both distance to facilities and supply reliability. Urban and rural differences should be considered when seeking to improve contraceptive access.