Cultural factors constraining the introduction of family planning among the Kassena-Nankana of northern Ghana

Soc Sci Med. 1997 Dec;45(12):1789-804. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(97)00110-x.


This study presents a focus group investigation of reasons why women in a rural, Sahelian community are reluctant to adopt family planning even when convenient services are made freely available. First, women opting to practice contraception must do so at considerable risk of social ostracism or familial conflict. Implementing individual preference is something that must be done without the support of others. Second, few women view personal decisions about contraceptives as theirs to make. Women and children are the property of the corporate family-kin and community militate against reproductive control. Third, although children are highly valued for a variety of economic, social, and cultural reasons, mortality risks remain extremely high. Low fertility imposes the unacceptable risk that a woman will have no surviving children at the end of her reproductive life. Taken together, these findings attest to the inadequacy of service strategies focused on the contribution of distribution, individual agency, or personal choice. Outreach should also build a sense of community legitimacy for the program, collective health action, and traditional leadership support for family planning behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Culture*
  • Educational Status
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Gender Identity
  • Ghana
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Marriage
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Religion
  • Rural Population