Perceptions of and barriers to family planning services in the poorest regions of Chiapas, Mexico: a qualitative study of men, women, and adolescents

Published October 17, 2017, in Contraception (opens in a new window)


In the poorest regions of Chiapas, Mexico, 50.2% of women in need of contraceptives do not use any modern method. A qualitative study was needed to design effective and culturally appropriate interventions.


We used purposive maximum-variation sampling to select eight municipalities with a high proportion of residents in the poorest wealth quintile, including urban, rural, indigenous, and non-indigenous communities. We conducted 44 focus group discussions with 292 women, adolescent women, and men using semi-structured topic guides. We analyzed the data through recursive abstraction.


There were intergenerational and cultural gaps in the acceptability of family planning, and in some communities family planning use was greatly limited by gender roles and religious objections to contraception. Men strongly influenced family planning choices in many households, but were largely unreached by outreach and education programs due to their work hours. Respondents were aware of many modern methods but often lacked deeper knowledge and held misconceptions about long-term fertility risks posed by some hormonal methods. Acute physical side effects also dissuaded use. The implant was a new and highly acceptable method due to ease of use, low upkeep, and minimal side effects; however, it was perceived as subject to stock-outs. Adolescent women reported being refused services at health facilities and requested more reproductive health information from their parents and schools. Mass and social media are growing sources of reproductive health information.


Our study identifies a number of barriers to family planning that have yet to be adequately addressed by existing programs in Chiapas’ poorest regions, and calls for reinvigorated efforts to provide effective, acceptable, and culturally appropriate interventions for these communities

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Dansereau E, Schaefer A, Hernandez B, Nelson J, Palmisano EB, Ríos-Zertuche D, Woldeab A, Zúñiga MP,  Iriarte E, Mokdad A, El Bcheraoui C. Perceptions of and barriers to family planning services in the poorest regions of Chiapas, Mexico: a qualitative study of men, women, and adolescents. Contraception. 2017 Oct 17; 14:129. doi: 10.1186/s12978-017-0392-4