Review of quality assessment tools for family planning programmes in low- and middle-income countries

Health Policy Plan. 2017 Mar 1;32(2):292-302. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czw123.


Measuring and tracking the quality of healthcare is a critical part of improving service delivery, clinic efficiency and health outcomes. However, no standardized or widely accepted tool exists to assess the quality of clinic-based family planning services in low- and middle-income countries. The objective of this literature review was to identify widely used public domain quality assessment tools with existing or potential application in clinic-based family planning programmes. Using PubMed, PopLine, Google Scholar and Google, key terms such as ‘quality assessment tool’, ‘quality assessment method’, ‘quality measurement’, ‘LMIC’, ‘developing country’, ‘family planning’ and ‘reproductive health’ were searched for articles, identifying 20 relevant tools. Tools were assessed to determine the type of quality components assessed, divided into structure and process components, level of application (national or facility), health service domain that can be assessed by the tool, cost and current use of the tool. Tools were also assessed for shortcomings based on application in a low- and middle-income clinic-based family planning programme, including personnel required, re-assessment frequency, assessment of structure, process and outcome quality, comparability of data over time and across facilities and ability to benchmark clinic results to a national benchmark. No tools met all criteria, indicating a critical gap in quality assessment for low- and middle-income family planning programmes. To achieve Universal Health Coverage, agreed on in the Sustainable Development Goals and to improve system-wide healthcare quality, we must develop and widely adopt a standardized quality assessment tool.

Keywords: Assessment; developing countries; international health; low income; management; measurement; public health; quality; quality of care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Family Planning Services / methods
  • Family Planning Services / organization & administration*
  • Family Planning Services / standards
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation / economics
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / standards
  • Quality of Health Care