Cell phone ownership and modern contraceptive use in Burkina Faso: implications for research and interventions using mobile technology

Abigail R. Greenleaf, Saifuddin Ahmed, Caroline Moreau, Georges Guiella, Yoonjoung Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives: With over 420 million unique cell phone subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa, the opportunities to use personal cell phones for public health research and interventions are increasing. We assess the association between cell phone ownership and modern contraceptive use among women in Burkina Faso to understand the opportunity to track family planning indicators using cell phone surveys or provide family planning interventions remotely. Study design: We analyzed data from a cross-sectional, nationally representative population-based survey of women of reproductive age in Burkina Faso, the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 Round 4, which was conducted between November 2016 and January 2017. Results: Among the 3215 female respondents aged 15 to 49 years, 47% reported cell phone ownership. Overall, 22% of women reported current modern contraceptive use. Women who owned a cell phone were more likely to report modern contraceptive use than those who did not (29% versus 15%). Adjusted for covariates (age, wealth, education, area of residence and marital status), the odds of reporting modern contraceptive use were 68% higher among cell phone owners compared to nonowners (odds ratio=1.68, 95% confidence interval 1.3–2.1). Method mix was substantially more diverse among those who owned cell phones compared to their counterparts. Conclusions: The study shows that cell phone ownership is significantly associated with modern contraceptive use in Burkina Faso, even after adjusting for women's sociodemographic characteristics. These results suggest that cell phone ownership selectivity and associated biases need to be addressed when planning family planning programs or conducting surveys using cell phones. Implications: Cell phones can be used for myriad family planning purposes, from confidential data collection to contraceptive promotion and knowledge dissemination, but ownership bias is significant. A cell-phone-based intervention or population-based survey is unlikely to reach a critical mass of the population at highest risk for unintended pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-174
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Africa south of the Sahara
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cell phones
  • Family planning
  • Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020
  • mHealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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