Unmet need, intention to use contraceptives and unwanted pregnancy in rural Bangladesh

Rebecca L. Callahan, Stan Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Context: Unmet need for contraception has become a central concept in the family planning field and one of the most important indicators for program planning and evaluation. The measure has faced criticism, however, for not taking into account women's stated intention to use contraceptives. Methods: Using longitudinal data on more than 2,500 rural Bangladeshi women in 128 villages, this study links women's contraceptive adoption and experience of unwanted pregnancy between 2006 and 2009 to their unmet need status and their stated intention to use contraceptives in 2006. Results: Intention to use a method was predictive of subsequent use for both women with and without an unmet need. Three-quarters of the unintended pregnancies reported between 2006 and 2009 occurred among women without an unmet need in 2006. In addition, nearly half of women without an unmet need who were pregnant or postpartum in 2006 had experienced an unwanted pregnancy, compared with 30% of all women classified as having an unmet need. Conclusion: To adequately meet population family planning needs, programs must look beyond unmet need and focus on the total demand for acceptable and effective methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-10
Number of pages7
JournalInternational perspectives on sexual and reproductive health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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