Unmet needs for contraception: A comparative study among Somali immigrant women in Oslo and their original population in Mogadishu, Somalia

Authors: Abdi A. Gele, Fathia K. Musse, Samera Qureshi

Published in 2019 on PLOS ONE


Unmet need for contraception is defined as the proportion of fertile individuals who do not use contraceptives despite wanting to space or limit their childbearing. Studies show that immigrant women in Europe, have higher rates of unintended pregnancies and abortion than native born women. Somali women, have the highest fertility rate in Norway which is much higher than the total fertility rate in Norway (4.0 vs. 1.7). This study investigates the unmet need for contraception among Somali immigrant women in Oslo, Norway, compared to their original population in Mogadishu, Somalia.


A community based, cross sectional study was carried out among Somali women in Oslo (N = 228) and Mogadishu (N = 229) from May to December 2018. Pre-structured question-naires were given to women who were recruited through snow-ball sampling. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 25. We performed a chi-square test for the analyses of categorical variables, a t-test for continuous variables and multivariate logistic analysis to determine the association between exposure and outcome variable.


The unmet needs for contraception among Somali women in Oslo was 20.2%, which is similar to unmet needs for contraception of women in many sub-Saharan African countries. The unmet needs for Somali immigrant women in Oslo (20.2) is two times lower than that of their original population in Somalia (48.5). The odds of having unmet needs for contraception was nearly, three times higher among Somali women in Mogadishu compared to those in Oslo (OR: 2.6, CI: 2.56–7.68). The mean intended fertility was 4 among the women in Osloand 10.8 in Mogadishu. About 13.4% of study participants in Oslo and 86.6% of those in Mogadishu consider modern contraception irrelevant for women’s health. Nearly 50% of women in both places had unintended childbirth on one or more occasion.


The study results show the prevalence of unmet needs for contraception among Somali immigrant women Oslo, is 4 fold higher than that of Norway (20.2 vs 5.5). Information Education Communication to both men and women, may reduce the high unmet need for contra-ception and also improve partner communication on family planning among Somali immigrants in Oslo. Training primary health providers for provision of tailored information about the modern contraception to immigrant women, which includes an individualized counselling may improve partners’ knowledge, demand and uptake of modern contraception.

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