INTRODUCTION: In 2003, a cross-sectional study was carried out in Kinshasa to determine the prevalence and to identify the correlates of the use of modern contraceptive methods among sexually active females.
METHODS: Five hundred females of childbearing age (15-49 years) who were selected through a stratified sampling procedure were interviewed with a standardized questionnaire. The interview collected sociodemographic data, knowledge, perception and current use of modern contraceptive methods.
RESULTS: Condoms appear to be the most widely known modern contraceptive method since it was cited by 43% of women; the pill was cited by only 28%, injectables were cited by 16.2%, IUD was cited by 8%, spermicidal foam was cited by 2% and the diaphragm was cited by <2%. Teenagers and young adults (15-24 years) were less knowledgeable of modern methods, while a noticeable proportion reported unwanted pregnancies. The prevalence of the utilization of modern contraceptive methods (barrier and hormonal methods) was estimated at 7%, with the male condom being the most commonly used method (reported by 74.3% of those using a modern method). Hormonal methods were used less often (the pill, 0.2%; others, <1% each). The current use of a modern contraceptive method correlated with having discussed contraception with someone [odds ratio (OR)=3.18; 95% confidence interval (95% CI)=1.52-6.64] and having ever used a modern contraceptive method (OR=11.57; 95% CI=2.71-49.48).
CONCLUSION: An increase in the level of knowledge on modern contraceptive methods through mass and interpersonal communications could be one of the key strategies to increase the utilization rate of modern contraceptive methods in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Teenagers should be considered a priority group since there is evidence of unmet needs among them.