- Jordan has a higher fertility rate (3.8) than the averages of countries similar in income to Jordan (2.2) and compared to the Middle East and North Africa region as a whole (2.8) (WHO, WB, UNICEF, & DHS, 2011). The findings of the 2009 Jordanian Population and Family Health Survey demonstrated that the total fertility rate (TFR) has stopped declining in the country since 2002 (DOS, 2010b; USAID, 2010). The prevalence of contraceptive use has also shown little change in Jordan over the last decade (DOS, 2010b; USAID, 2010). Given that contraception is one of the proximate determinants of fertility (Rahayu et al., 2009), the main purpose of this study was to investigate which factors are contributing to women's current contraceptive behavior and intention for future contraceptive use. Research questions were developed in a comprehensive
framework that considers women's intention and actual behavior as outcomes of various interactive factors within a socio-cultural context. In particular, the study's framework was directed by a theoretical basis adapted from Ajzen and Fishbein's Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and an extensive review of the available literature in the research area. Obviously, the social set-up and cultural norms in the study setting, together with attitudes toward children and family, represent a traditional scenario that could help explain the consistency of fertility and contraceptive use in the country. Further, the influences of background characteristics on women's contraceptive behaviors and intentions provide another scenario that could help assess the current situation of family planning (FP) in Jordan. In this study, demographic factors, spousal communication variables and healthcare system-related factors are all defined as background characteristics. Attitudes and social norms reflect the women's behavioral determinants and represent the main constructs of the TRA. In fact, involving a set of factors related to women's beliefs and social norms in the study's framework provided an opportunity to explore how these factors might promote or inhibit a woman's intentions and behaviors in respect to contraceptive use. In a three-manuscript format, this research was designed to achieve a number of objectives. The first manuscript aimed at identifying the major factors associated with the current use of contraception among women of childbearing age in northern Jordan. The second manuscript focused on investigating the main factors that are associated with women's contraceptive method preference (e.g. the choice of modern contraceptives as effective methods in preventing pregnancy versus the choice of traditional contraceptives as methods with high failure rates). The third manuscript attempted to explore the key factors associated with women's intention for
future contraceptive use since the existence of such an intention would consequently translate into an actual behavior later. In 2010, original cross-section data were collected by means of a face-to-face interview using a structured pre-tested survey. The study sample included women who were currently married and were between 18 and 49 years old. Applying a systematic random sampling procedure, all respondents were recruited from the waiting rooms of five randomly selected Maternal and Child Health (MCH) centers in the Governorate of Irbid, northern Jordan. Using a list provided by the Ministry of Health, all centers in the Governorate were stratified according to the region (urban vs. rural) and randomly selected in proportion to their number in each region. The final sample size for this research consisted of 536 women surveyed, giving a response rate of 92.4 percent. Utilizing logistic regression analyses, the results of the dissertation manuscripts indicate that women's behaviors and intentions toward the use of contraception are affected by a number of factors at the individual, familial and institutional levels. The findings that emerged from the three manuscripts provide health professionals and policy makers with important information to assist in the design of FP programs and campaigns aimed at increasing current contraceptive use, enhancing the adoption of modern contraception and motivating the intention for future contraceptive use. This research strongly suggests that health professionals develop health policies that both expand the availability of MCH centers and strengthen the role of healthcare providers to dispel the numerous rumors and misconceptions surrounding the use of contraceptives, particularly modern ones. Health workers at the MCH centers need to ensure that women have sufficient information about the benefits and side effects of different types of contraception by offering proper FP counseling. The messages that
religious leaders can use in advocating for FP would also help make contraceptive use socially acceptable since their opinions are often followed by the majority. This would be a key step toward removing the barriers to contraceptive use. Moreover, to design effective FP interventions, planners should take into account women's attitudes toward the use of contraceptive methods and the components of those attitudes (e.g. women's approval of contraceptive use for birth spacing and perceptions regarding the value of large family sizes and the importance of having male children in Jordanian families).