Incorporating Method Dissatisfaction into Unmet Need for Contraception: Implications for Measurement and Impact

Stud Fam Plann. 2021 Mar;52(1):95-102. doi: 10.1111/sifp.12146. Epub 2021 Feb 17.


While unmet need for contraception is commonly used to assess programmatic needs, it inadequately captures the complexity of fertility and contraceptive preferences, including women's satisfaction with their contraceptive method. In their 2019 commentary, Sarah Rominski and Rob Stephenson propose reclassifying dissatisfied current users as having an unmet need for contraception. As revising the current definition based on their proposal would require significant investment to update survey and monitoring systems, understanding the potential impact on current estimates of unmet need is critical. We estimated the impact of this approach in a Kenyan cohort of modern contraceptive users. We found the prevalence of method dissatisfaction ranges from 6.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.6-7.8%) to 18.9% (95% CI 17.1-20.9%); if applied nationally, this results in a large (approximately 25-70%) increase in Kenya's current estimate of unmet need for any contraception. Our findings suggest a large impact on unmet need estimates for equivalent populations. Overall, we advocate for better measurements of method satisfaction and acceptability, with metrics developed that are robust to socioeconomic gradients and validated in low- and middle-income settings to ensure women's contraceptive needs are captured equitably.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Contraception
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kenya


  • Contraceptive Agents