Female adolescents' reproductive health decision-making capacity and contraceptive use in sub-Saharan Africa: what does the future hold?

Ahinkorah, Bright Opoku, Hagan, John Elvis, Seidu, Abdul Aziz, Sambah, Francis, Adoboi, Faustina, Schack, Thomas, and Budu, Eugene (2020) Female adolescents' reproductive health decision-making capacity and contraceptive use in sub-Saharan Africa: what does the future hold? PLoS ONE, 15 (7). e0235601.

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Introduction: Given the social, economic, and health consequences of early parenthood, unintended pregnancy, and the risks of HIV infection and subsequent transmission, there is an urgent need to understand how adolescents make sexual and reproductive decisions regarding contraceptive use. This study sought to assess the association between female adolescents’ reproductive health decision-making capacity and their contraceptive usage.

Materials and methods: Data was obtained from pooled current Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in 32 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The unit of analysis for this study was adolescents in sexual unions [n = 15,858]. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted using Pearson chi-square tests and binary logistic regression respectively. All analyses were performed using STATA version 14.2. Results were presented using Odds Ratios [OR] and adjusted Odds Ratios [AOR]. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05.

Results: The results showed that 68.66% of adolescents in SSA had the capacity to make reproductive health decisions. The overall prevalence of contraceptive use was 18.87%, ranging from 1.84% in Chad to 45.75% in Zimbabwe. Adolescents who had the capacity to take reproductive health decisions had higher odds of using contraceptives [AOR = 1.47; CI = 1.31–1.65, p < 0.001]. The odds of contraceptive use among female adolescents increased with age, with those aged 19 years having the highest likelihood of using contraceptives [AOR = 3.12; CI = 2.27–34.29, p < 0.001]. Further, the higher the level of education, the more likely female adolescents will use contraceptives, and this was more predominant among those with secondary/higher education [AOR = 2.50; CI = 2.11–2.96, p < 0.001]. Female adolescents who were cohabiting had higher odds of using contraceptives, compared to those who were married [AOR = 1.69; CI = 1.47–1.95, p < 0.001]. The odds of contraceptive use was highest among female adolescents from the richest wealth quintile, compared to those from the poorest wealth quintile [AOR = 1.65; CI = 1.35–2.01, p<0.001]. Conversely, female adolescents in rural areas were less likely to use contraceptives, compared to those in urban areas [AOR = 0.78; CI = 0.69–0.89, p < 0.001].

Conclusion: The use of general and modern contraceptives among adolescents in SSA remains low. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen existing efforts on contraceptives usage among adolescents in SSA. This goal can be achieved by empowering these young females, particularly those in the rural areas where the level of literacy is very low to take positive reproductive health decisions to prevent unintended teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted infections. This approach would help reduce maternal mortality and early childbirth in studied SSA countries.

Item ID: 66797
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Keywords: Adolescent; Africa South of the Sahara; Contraception Behavior; Decision Making; Demography; Female; Health Surveys; Humans; Logistic Models; Reproductive Health; Sexual Behavior; Young Adult
Copyright Information: © 2020 Ahinkorah et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 22:47
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420603 Health promotion @ 100%
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