The Power of Social Influence: A Social Network Perspective on Men’s and Women’s Attitudes toward Contraceptive Use

Irit Sinai, Georgetown University

Twenty years of family planning programming efforts in Mali resulted in high levels of knowledge and expanded access to family planning services, but contraceptive prevalence remains low. What prevents people who supposedly have an “unmet need for contraception” from using a method? We used social network analysis to examine men’s and women’s attitudes toward contraceptive use. A complete census of adults of reproductive age was conducted in two Malian villages. Each individual was asked to name people they rely on for material, practical, cognitive or emotional support. Perceived attitudes towards fertility and current contraceptive use were explored for each individual named. This resulted in complete social networking maps. Analysis revealed the influence of social interactions on contraceptive use, and how the type and density of social connections might be influencing use. These results were used to design social-network based interventions to reduce unmet need based on villager’s attitudes and perceptions.

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Presented in Session 47: Gender, Relationships and Sexual Behavior