Characterizing provider bias in contraceptive care in Tanzania and Burkina Faso: A mixed-methods study

Alexandra Wollum, Corrina Moucheraud, Jessica D. Gipson, Willa Friedman, Manisha Shah, Zachary Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Provider bias based on age, marital status, and parity may be a barrier to quality contraceptive care. However, the extent to which bias leads to disparities in care quality is not well understood. In this mixed-methods study, we used four different data sources from the same facilities to assess the extent of bias and how much it affects contraceptive care. First, we surveyed providers in Tanzania and Burkina Faso (N = 295) to assess provider attitudes about young, unmarried, and nulliparous clients. Second, mystery clients anonymously visited providers for contraceptive care and we randomly assigned the reported age, marital status, and parity of each visit (N = 306). We used data from these visits to investigate contraceptive care disparities across 3 domains: information provision and counseling quality, contraceptive method provision, and perceived treatment. Third, we complemented mystery client data with client exit surveys (N = 31,023) and client in-depth interviews (N = 36). In surveys, providers reported biased attitudes against young, unmarried, and nulliparous clients seeking contraceptives. Similarly, we found disparities according to these characteristics in the reporting of contraceptive care quality; however, we found that each characteristic affected a different quality of care domain. Among mystery clients we found age-related disparities in the provision of methods; 16/17-year-old clients were 18 and 11 percentage points less likely to perceive they could take a contraceptive method relative to 24-year-old clients in Tanzania and Burkina Faso, respectively. Unmarried mystery clients perceived worse treatment from providers compared to married clients. Nulliparous mystery clients reported lower quality contraceptive counseling than their parous counterparts. These results suggest that clients of different characteristics likely experience bias across different elements of care. Improving care quality and reducing disparities will require attention to which elements of care are deficient for different types of clients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116826
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - May 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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