Impact of Contraceptive Education on Contraceptive Knowledge and Decision Making: A Systematic Review

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Aug;49(2 Suppl 1):S46-56. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.03.031.


Context: Educational interventions can help increase knowledge of available contraceptive methods, enabling individuals to make informed decisions and use contraception more effectively. This systematic review evaluated contraceptive education interventions to guide national recommendations on quality family planning services.

Evidence acquisition: Three databases (CINAHL, PubMed, and PsycINFO) were searched from 1985 through 2012 for peer-reviewed articles on educational interventions, with supplemental searches conducted through 2015. Primary outcomes were knowledge, participation in and comfort with decision making, and attitudes toward contraception. Secondary outcomes included contraceptive use behaviors and unintended pregnancy.

Evidence synthesis: Database searches in 2011 identified 5,830 articles; 17 met inclusion criteria and were abstracted into evidence tables. Searches in 2012 and 2015 identified four additional studies. Studies used a wide range of tools (decision aids, written materials, audio/videotapes, and interactive games), with and without input from a healthcare provider or educator. Of 15 studies that examined the impact of educational interventions on knowledge, 14 found significant improvement using a range of tools, with and without input from a healthcare provider or educator. Fewer studies evaluated outcomes related to decision making, attitudes toward contraception, contraceptive use behaviors, or unintended pregnancy.

Conclusions: Results from this systematic review are consistent with evidence from the broader healthcare field suggesting that a range of educational interventions can increase knowledge. Future studies should assess what aspects of educational interventions are most effective, the extent to which it is necessary to include a healthcare provider or educator, and the extent to which educational interventions can impact behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Contraception*
  • Decision Making*
  • Family Planning Services / education*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • United States