Worldwide unmet need for contraception remains high at 21.6%. As access to health facilities is one of the potential barriers to contraceptive uptake, the aim of our study was to evaluate the effect of distance to a health facility, according to its service availability, on contraceptive uptake among married Turkish women.
To calculate respondents’ distance to a health facility, we used data from a household survey conducted among married women, as well as data from a health facility survey conducted among the facilities that were visited for contraceptive services by the respondents. The data were collected from the Istanbul area of Turkey under the Willows Impact Evaluation project in 2018. Health facilities were categorised according to contraceptive availability and the accurate distance from respondents’ homes to each type of health facility was calculated. Logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of distance to each type of health facility on uptake of each type of contraception.
The prevalence of overall contraceptive use among urban Turkish women was 71.9%. The most common method was withdrawal (32.5%), followed by the intrauterine device (IUD) (14.9%) and male condoms (12.4%). Distance to a health facility that did not provide long-acting contraception was not associated with any type of contraceptive use. On the other hand, distance to a health facility that provided long-acting contraception was negatively associated with the use of long-acting methods such as the IUD but was positively associated with the use of short-acting contraception such as condoms.
The effect of distance to a health facility on contraceptive use significantly differed according to contraceptive availability at the facility. Further distance to a health facility that provided long-acting contraception decreased the use of long-acting contraception but had a substitute effect on the use of short-acting contraception. We conclude that when women face an accessibility barrier to the provision of long-acting contraception, they modify their behaviour by shifting from long- to short-acting contraception, which is less effective.