From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Contraceptive use systematic review

Our systematic review of qualitative research on the barriers to modern contraceptive method use among young women in developing countries was published in Reproductive Health in 2009.

Literature searches of 23 databases, including Medline, Embase and POPLINE®, were conducted, and 7 high-quality studies met the inclusion criteria (six from sub-Saharan Africa; one from South-East Asia). Sample sizes ranged from 16 to 149 young women with 387 in total (age range 13-19 years). Four of the studies were urban based, one was rural, one semi-rural, and one mixed (predominantly rural). Key themes were identified and compared across the studies. Use of hormonal methods was limited by lack of knowledge, obstacles to access and concern over side effects, especially fear of infertility. Although often easier to get hold of, and sometimes more attractive than hormonal methods, condom use was limited by their association with sexually transmitted diseases and promiscuity, together with greater male control of the method. As a result young women often relied on traditional methods (e.g. withdrawal, or charms and herbal mixtures from traditional healers) or abortion. Although the review was limited to five countries and conditions are not homogenous for all young women in all developing countries, the overarching themes were common across different settings and contexts, supporting the potential transferability of interventions to improve reproductive health, given appropriate adaptation to local socio-cultural conditions.



Williamson LM, Parkes A, Wight D, Petticrew M, Hart GJ. Limits to modern contraceptive use among young women in developing countries: a systematic review of qualitative research. Reproductive Health 2009;6:3

pubmed  open access  


Williamson LM, Hart G, Petticrew M. A systematic review of research on young women's uptake, choice, and discontinuation of contraceptives: descriptive mapping. European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care 2004