Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Introduction: Responsibility for family planning in low resource settings is almost solely delegated to women, with very low male involvement. This study investigated rural Tanzanian women’s perceptions and cultural beliefs of the barriers to family planning services utilization.

Methods: This study used a qualitative descriptive approach drawing on four group discussions with 20 purposively selected married women with two or more children. The study followed COREQ guidelines for reporting qualitative studies. Data were collected from participants at four health facilities in Bagamoyo and Kisarawe districts in Pwani, Tanzania.

Results: Participants’ occupations included housewives, small-scale farmers, and entrepreneurs. Most women were Muslim and had a primary school education. Five main themes were identified: use of modern and traditional family planning methods; my husband will love me more if I give birth to more children; men’s expected roles in family planning; provide education to dispel myths; and religious barriers. Associated sub-themes covered use of strings, snares and pigis; calendars; breastfeeding linked to family planning; men as heroes for having many children; men not having time to attend clinic; and conflicting sources of health information.

Conclusion: Lack of adequate family planning information; beliefs on and use of traditional/unconventional methods; gender roles expectations that influence decision making and limit women’s choices of family planning methods and; socio-cultural and religious beliefs were main perceived barriers for family planning utilization in this study. Mitigation of these barriers depends on the sustained engagement of key stakeholders including religious and community leaders. Health education must be designed to adapt socio-cultural and religious doctrines with benefits of family planning and health outcomes. Health delivery services must also address women’s’ prevailing perceptions and beliefs with emphasize on the partner communication and their encouragement of men’s’ involvement in reproductive health services utilization.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Nursing Commons