The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2012 that 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010; sub-Saharan Africa (56%) and Southern Asia (29%) accounted for the global burden of maternal deaths. Men are also recognized to be responsible for the large proportion of ill reproductive health suffered by their female partners. Male involvement helps not only in accepting a contraceptive but also in its effective use and continuation. The objectives were to assess men's knowledge, attitude, and practice of modern contraceptive methods; determine the level of spousal communication about family planning decision making; and investigate the correlates of men's opinion about their roles in family planning decision making. We searched the following electronic databases from January 1995 to December 2013: Medline, Embase, CINAHL, LILAS, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Social Services Abstracts, and Sociological Abstracts. Along with MeSH terms and relevant keywords, we used the Cochrane Highly Sensitive Search Strategy for identifying reports of articles in PubMed. There were no restrictions to language or publication status. Of 137 hits, 7 papers met the inclusion criteria. The concept of family planning was well known to men. In the Nigerian study, almost (99%) men were aware of the existence of modern contraceptives, and most of them were aware of at least two modern methods. Awareness of the condom was highest (98%). In the Malawi study, all of the participants reported that they were not using contraception before the intervention. In Ethiopia, above 90% of male respondents have supported and approved using and choosing family planning methods, but none of them practiced terminal methods. Generally, more male respondents disagreed than agreed that men should make decisions about selected family planning issues in the family. Decision-making dynamics around method choice followed a slightly different pattern. According to female participants, decisions regarding method choice were equally made by women or jointly, with male-dominated decisions falling last. There are many challenges to increase male involvement in family planning services. So far very few interventions addressing these challenges have been evaluated scientifically. Health education campaigns to improve beliefs and attitudes of men are absolutely needed. Additionally, improving accessibility, affordability, availability, accommodation and acceptability of family planning service venues will make them more attractive for male partners.
Keywords: Male involvement; Sub-Saharan Africa; family planning decision making.