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Women's preferences for contraceptive counseling in Mexico: Results from a focus group study.



Client-centered contraceptive counseling is critical to meeting demand for contraception and protecting human rights. However, despite various efforts to optimize counseling, little is known outside of the United States about what individuals themselves value in counseling. In the present study we investigate women's preferences for contraceptive counseling in Mexico to inform efforts to improve service quality.


We conducted applied qualitative research, using six focus group discussions with 43 women in two cities in Mexico with distinct sizes and sociocultural contexts (Mexico City and Tepeji del Río, Hidalgo) to assess contraceptive counseling preferences. We used a framework approach to thematically code and analyze the transcriptions from focus groups.


Consistent with quality of care and human rights frameworks for family planning service delivery, participants expressed a desire for privacy, confidentiality, informed choice, and respectful treatment. They expanded on usual concepts of respectful care within family planning to include avoidance of sexual assault or harassment-in line with definitions of respectful care in maternal health. In contrast to counseling approaches with method effectiveness as the organizing principle, participants preferred counseling centered on personalized assessments of needs and preferences. Many, particularly older, less educated women, highly valued hearing provider opinions about what method they should use, based on those personalized assessments. Participants highlighted the necessity of clinical assessments or physical exams to inform provider recommendations for appropriate methods. This desire was largely due to beliefs that more exhaustive medical exams could help prevent negative contraceptive outcomes perceived to be common, in particular expulsion of intra-uterine devices (IUDs), by identifying methods compatible with a woman's body. Trust in provider, built in various ways, was seen as essential to women's contraceptive needs being met.


Findings shed light on under-represented perspectives of clients related to counseling preferences. They highlight specific avenues for service delivery improvement in Mexico to ensure clients experience privacy, confidentiality, informed choice, respectful treatment, and personalized counseling-including around reasons for higher IUD expulsion rates postpartum-during contraceptive visits. Findings suggest interventions to improve provider counseling should prioritize a focus on relationship-building to foster trust, and needs assessment skills to facilitate personalization of decision-making support without imposition of a provider's personal opinions. Trust is particularly important to address in family planning given historical abuses against women's autonomy that may still influence perspectives on contraceptive programs. Findings can also be used to improve quantitative client experience measures.

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