Background: Despite the many supply- and demand-side interventions aimed at increasing contraceptive uptake, the modern contraceptive prevalence rate in Nigeria has remained very low (9.8%). Religion is an important part of the sociocultural fabric of many communities. As such, religious leaders have the power to inhibit or facilitate effective adoption of contraceptive methods to support family health. We assess the association of exposure to religious leaders’ tailored scriptural family planning messages with contraceptive use in Nigeria. Methods: This cross-sectional study used data from a Measurement, Learning and Evaluation Project survey conducted in 2015 in 4 Nigerian states—Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, Kwara, and Oyo. The final study sample was restricted to 9,725 non-pregnant women aged 15 to 49 years. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression analysis to explore significant relationships between current use of a modern contraceptive method, exposure to family planning messages from religious leaders, and selected background characteristics. Results: About 2 in 5 women reported being exposed to family planning messages from religious leaders in the past year. Bivariate results revealed a higher uptake of modern contraceptives among women with high exposure to different NURHI interventions (35.5%) compared with respondents in the low or medium exposure categories (14.5% and 24.5%, respectively). The multivariable analysis revealed significantly higher contraceptive uptake among women who had exposure to family planning messages from religious leaders relative to those with no exposure (odds ratio=1.70; 95% confidence interval, 1.54 to 1.87; P<.001). This association remained significant after adjustment for background characteristics and other selected variables. Conclusion: Interventions that engage clerics of different faiths as change agents for shaping norms and informing behaviors about family planning and contraceptive use are crucial for increasing contraceptive uptake in Nigeria.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health