Introduction: Unmet need is defined as the percentage of all fecund women who are married or living in union and thus presumed to be sexually active but are not using any method of contraception, either do not want to have any more children or want to postpone their next birth at least for two more years or do not know when or if they want another child1. Unmet Need for Modern Methods includes all in the unmet need group and those who are using natural and traditional methods at the time of survey (The Westoff Model) 2. It describes the discrepancy between sexual and contraceptive behaviors and stated fertility preferences of women in the reproductive age.
Objective: This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a health educational intervention in improving the knowledge and attitudes on family planning (FP) among Public Health Midwives (PHMM) who function as community health workers and acceptance of modern FP methods planning which eventually reduce the Unmet Need (UMN) and thereby reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy among 15 - 49 year old married women in in the Kalutara district.
Method: Initially the perceptions on unmet need in community service providers was assessed by three Focus Group Discussions conducted among Medical Officers of Health, Public Health Nursing Sisters and PHMM. It was followed by assessment of the baseline knowledge and attitudes on FP and UMN among all the PHMM and a group of married women in reproductive age (15-49) with unmet need for modern methods selected from cluster sampling of PHM areas in the district using PPS technique, allocating 22 clusters of 12 women in each Intervention (IA) and Control Area (CA).The developed health education intervention was applied on PHMM followed by the selected group of women with unmet need for modern methods only to the IA. The effectiveness was assessed in terms of the change in knowledge and attitudes of PHMM after 2 months of intervention, of target group of women after 6 months of intervention and the reduction of unmet need for modern methods in the IA compared to CA.
Result: In PHMM, overall percentage mean knowledge score in IA at pre and post intervention were 29.9% and 65.7% respectively with a statistically significant difference (p<0.001) but with no such difference (p=0.10) in CA between pre (20%) and post (30%) scores. Median attitude scores were 37.5% and 86% in IA at pre and post intervention with a statistically significant difference (p<0.001). For CA respective figures were (40%) and (41%) with no significant difference (p=0.09) Regarding the target group, in IA had pre (37.6%) and post (70.6%) mean knowledge scores with a statistically significant difference (p<0.001); but with no significant difference (p=0.06) in CA between pre (39.0%) and post (40.2%) scores. Similarly, between groups comparison shows statistically significant difference (p<0.001) between IA and CA in post intervention, the scores being 70.6% and 40.2% respectively.
Conclusion: The training conducted on PHMM revealed a significant impact on knowledge and attitudes in both service providers and clients leading to change in the FP practice and reduction in unmet need for modern methods of FP.