Client and provider experiences with self-administration of subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-SC) in Malawi

Contraception. 2018 Nov;98(5):405-410. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2018.02.011. Epub 2018 Apr 26.


Objective: As low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) consider adding self-administration of subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-SC) to their contraceptive method mix, learning about family planning clients' and providers' experiences with self-injectable DMPA-SC during trials will inform introduction and scale-up efforts.

Study design: We conducted semistructured interviews with 30 randomly selected adult women enrolled in the self-administration group of a 12-month randomized controlled trial studying DMPA-SC continuation rates in rural Malawi. We asked about their experiences learning to self-inject, self-injecting, remembering when to reinject, and storing and disposing of DMPA-SC. We also interviewed 12 providers - clinic-based providers (CBPs) and community-based health surveillance assistants (HSAs) - who trained clients to self-inject DMPA-SC during the trial. We asked about their experiences training and supporting women to self-inject DMPA-SC during the trial and their recommendations for scale-up of self-administered DMPA-SC.

Results: Clients and providers reported positive experiences with DMPA-SC self-injection. Clients felt that DMPA-SC self-injection saved them time and money, and providers felt that it reduced their workload and saved them time. We found that both CBPs and HSAs successfully trained clients to self-inject DMPA-SC and that clients safely and appropriately stored and disposed of DMPA-SC.

Conclusions: Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence of the feasibility of DMPA-SC self-injection in LMIC settings. We recommend that providers plan to train clients for at least 30min, emphasize the activating and injecting steps during training, use up to four practice injections per client trained and give self-injectors calendars to help them remember when to reinject.

Implications: DMPA-SC self-administration should be made available in LMIC settings, but because it is a new practice, implementation guidance is needed. We offer practical recommendations for introducing and scaling up DMPA-SC self-administration based on clients' and providers' experiences during a trial investigating this practice in Malawi.

Keywords: Community health worker; Family planning; Malawi; Self-administer; Self-injection; Subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Malawi
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / administration & dosage*
  • Self Administration
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate