Improving post-partum family planning services provided by female community health volunteers in Nepal: a mixed methods study

BMC Health Serv Res. 2020 Feb 17;20(1):123. doi: 10.1186/s12913-020-4969-1.


Background: Family planning services in the post-partum period, termed post-partum family planning (PPFP) is critical to cover the unmet need for contraception, especially when institutional delivery rates have increased. However, the intention to choose PPFP methods such as post-partum intrauterine devices (PPIUD) remains low in countries such as Nepal. Community health workers such as Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) could play an important role in improving the service coverage of PPFP in Nepal. However, their knowledge of PPFP and community-based services related to PPFP remain unclear. This study aims to assess the effect on community-based PPFP services by improving FCHV's knowledge through orientation on PPFP.

Methods: We conducted this mixed-methods study in Morang District in Nepal. The intervention involved orientation of FCHVs on PPFP methods. We collected quantitative data from three sources; via a survey of FCHVs that assessed their knowledge before and after the intervention, from their monthly reporting forms on counseling coverage of women at different stages of pregnancy from the communities, and by interviewing mothers in their immediate post-partum period in two selected hospitals. We also conducted six focus group discussions with the FCHVs to understand their perception of PPFP and the intervention. We performed descriptive and multivariable analyses for quantitative results and thematic analysis for qualitative data.

Results: In total, 230 FCHVs participated in the intervention and their knowledge of PPFP improved significantly after it. The intervention was the only factor significantly associated with their improved knowledge (adjusted odds ratio = 24, P < 0.001) in the multivariable analysis. FCHVs were able to counsel 83.3% of 1872 mothers at different stages of pregnancy in the communities. In the two hospitals, the proportion of mothers in their immediate post-partum period whom reported they were counseled by FCHVs during their pregnancy increased. It improved from 7% before the intervention to 18.1% (P < 0.001) after the intervention. The qualitative findings suggested that the intervention improved their knowledge in providing PPFP counseling.

Conclusion: The orientation improved the FCHV's knowledge of PPFP and their community-based counseling. Follow-up studies are needed to assess the longer term effect of the FCHV's role in improving community-based PPFP services.

Keywords: Community health workers; Contraception; Family planning services; Intrauterine devices; Post-partum period.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Workers / education*
  • Contraception
  • Counseling / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Planning Services / organization & administration*
  • Family Planning Services / standards*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Intrauterine Devices / statistics & numerical data
  • Nepal
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Volunteers / education*