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Understanding quality of contraceptive services from women's perspectives in Gujarat, India: a focus group study.

Abstract

Objectives

Understanding quality of contraceptive care from clients' perspectives is critical to ensuring acceptable and non-harmful services, yet little qualitative research has been dedicated to this topic. India's history of using incentives to promote contraceptive use, combined with reports of unsafe conditions in sterilisation camps, make a focus on quality important. The study objective was to understand women's experiences with and preferences for contraceptive counselling and care in the public sector in India.

Design

Qualitative study using eight focus group discussions (FGDs). FGDs were thematically analysed using a framework approach.

Setting

Rural and urban areas in one district in Gujarat.

Participants

31 sterilisation and 42 reversible contraceptive users who were married and represented different backgrounds. Inclusion criteria were: (1) female, (2) at least 18 years and (3) receipt of contraception services in the last 6 months from public health services.

Results

Providers motivate married women to use contraception and guide women to specific methods based on how many children they have. Participants found this common practice acceptable. Participants also discussed the lack of counselling about reversible and permanent options and expressed a need for more information on side effects of reversible methods. There were mixed opinions about whether compensation received for accepting long-term methods affects contraceptive decision making. While many women were satisfied with their experiences, we identified minor themes related to provider coercion towards provider-controlled methods and disrespectful and abusive treatment during sterilisation care, both of which require concerted efforts to address systemic factors enabling such experiences.

Conclusions

Findings illuminate opportunities for quality improvement as we identified several gaps between how women experience contraceptive care and their preferences, and with ideals of quality and rights frameworks. Findings informed adaptation of the Quality of Contraceptive Counselling Scale for India, and have implications for centring quality and rights in global efforts.

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