Filipino Rationality: Exploring the Gap Between Knowledge and Practice in Family Planning and Contraceptive Use

Code:    07-063
Date:    01/01/2007 - 08/31/2007

Why does the use of contraceptives remain low despite high awareness and knowledge about different methods of family planning (FP)? A research conducted by Dr. Clarissa David of the University of the Philippines-College of Mass Communication Foundation, Inc. (UPCMCF) answered that knowledge is a necessary, but insufficient condition of FP use.  There is no direct effect between knowledge and behavior.  FP is generally accepted, but willingness of men and women to use an FP method depends on the "cost" to personal health, self-efficacy, acceptance by the spouse, or urgency of limiting the number of children.  

Many women decide to adopt the method their mothers and/or mothers-in-law used before, suggesting that parents are important partners in FP education.  Notably, community norms are strongly for limiting family size and proper spacing, and against sex at a young age, thus presenting psychological barriers to contraceptive use among young and unmarried women.  Religious prohibition and the financial cost of modern methods play a negligible role in individual decisions for method-choice.

The study recommended the following: (a) the total number of children in the family is more important than gender balance, (b) highlight the "opportunity cost" for early pregnancy, (c) use exemplars and testimony in message design strategy, (d) harness mass media for certain types of behavior-change campaigns; and (e) gather further evidence in narrowing down the most promising avenues for intervention on FP and in finding the model that best fits how couples settle on or change their fertility goals.

A monograph of this study (limited copies) is available at PCPD.