Percent of men (husbands) who are supportive of their partners’ reproductive health practices

Percent of men (husbands) who are supportive of their partners’ reproductive health practices

Percent of men (husbands) who are supportive of their partners’ reproductive health practices

The percent of males who support their partners‘ repro­ductive health (RH) practices

This indicator is calculated as:

(# of males who support their partners‘ RH practices/Total # of men surveyed) x 100

“Supportive” can be operationally defined in several dif­ferent ways, including attitudes toward specific behav­iors (e.g., contraceptive use), responses to hypothetical situations, and reported actions/behaviors.

“RH practices” refers to the behaviors that RH programs promote (e.g., often the objective of the program): contraceptive use, breastfeeding, delivery in the presence of a skilled birth attendant, and so forth.

Data Requirement(s):

Responses to structured or in-depth interviews

Surveys among the male clientele at health facilities or other men‘s RH sites (program-based) or among the men in the general public (population-­based). Alternative sources are surveys among the wives of participants in male-focused programs.

One way a man can become “involved” in RH is by supporting his wife/partner in her practice of desirable health behaviors. Although some argue that this type of involvement does not go “far enough,” in societies where males have withheld such support, this involvement can represent an important step forward.

Evaluators can assess men‘s level of support for women‘s RH practices using three types of questions: attitudes, responses to hypothetical situations, and re­ported actions. Illustrative questions of each type are presented below. One expects that these re­sponses will become more favorable as a result of inter­ventions directed toward male involvement.

Illustrative Items for Measuring Men‘s Support of Their Wife‘s/Partner‘s RH Practices


Do you approve or disapprove of your wife/partner:

(a) Using a contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy?

(b) Receiving antenatal care during pregnancy?

(c) Having a trained birth attendant present at delivery?

(d) Breastfeeding your baby?

Hypothetical situations:

  1. If your wife/partner went into labor and experienced complications but you were away on a trip, should she seek health care on her own or wait for your return?
  2. Suppose a woman suspected that her husband/partner was having sexual relations with several other women. Is she justified or not to suggest using condoms when she and her husband/partner have sex?

Actual behaviors:

  1. Have you ever told (or otherwise let your wife/partner know) that you approve or disapprove of her using contraception?
  2. During your wife‘s/partner‘s last pregnancy, did you have a plan to get her to a hospital or health center if she had complications? (If so, explain).

The answers to this set of questions may be subject to courtesy bias, especially if men are aware that their attitudes or be­haviors deviate from socially accepted responses. The best solution to this problem is for the interviewers to ask these questions in a matter-of-fact way.  An alter­native approach is to interview women about their hus­bands’ attitudes and behaviors vis-à-vis family planning, safe pregnancy, delivery, STI/HIV risk, and other pre­vention behaviors. However, such accounts may be bi­ased if the wives know that their husbands participate in the male-focused activities and thus “anticipate“ changes in their behavior.

attitude, male engagement