Social network associations with contraceptive use among Cameroonian women in voluntary associations

Soc Sci Med. 1997 Sep;45(5):677-87. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(96)00385-1.


This paper examines the association between social networks and contraceptive use. Using data from a survey of women belonging to voluntary associations in Yaoundé, Cameroon, we find that the behavior and characteristics of the members of a respondent's personal networks are associated with her contraceptive use, over and above a set of her own individual characteristics that are usually found to be important. Respondents who report that their network partners approve of contraception, use it, and encourage the respondent to use are more likely to use contraception themselves; the association with encouragement is particularly strong. Moreover, there is a strong association between the specific methods of contraception used by a respondent and those used by her network partners, suggesting that members of personal networks exchange and evaluate specific methods. Because most of the respondent's network partners were interviewed, we are able to compare the respondent's perceptions of contraceptive use by her network partners with the network partner's actual use. We find that it is perceptions of use that matter, even if those perception are incorrect.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cameroon
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Social Support*