Objective: A better understanding of the prevalence of service provider-imposed barriers to family planning can inform programs intended to increase contraceptive use. This study, based on data from urban Kenya, describes the frequency of provider self-reported restrictions related to clients' age, parity, marital status, and third-party consent, and considers the impact of facility type and training on restrictive practices.
Study design: Trained data collectors interviewed 676 service providers at 273 health care facilities in five Kenyan cities. Service providers were asked questions about their background and training and were also asked about age, marital, parity, or consent requirements for providing family planning services.
Results: More than half of providers (58%) reported imposing minimum age restrictions on one or more methods. These restrictions were commonly imposed on clients seeking injectables, a popular method in urban Kenya, with large numbers refusing to offer injectables to women younger than 20 years. Forty-one percent of providers reported that they would not offer one or more methods to nulliparous women and more than one in four providers reported that they would not offer the injectable to women without at least one child. Providers at private facilities were significantly more likely to impose barriers, across all method types, and those without in-service training on family planning provision had a significantly higher prevalence of imposing parity, marital, and consent barriers across most methods.
Conclusion: Programs need to address provider-imposed barriers that reduce access to contraceptive methods particularly among young, lower parity, and single women. Promising strategies include targeting private facility providers and increasing the prevalence of in-service training.
Keywords: Contraceptive access; Kenya; Provider barriers/restrictions.
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