Despite improvements in reproductive health indicators among women living in Sub-Saharan Africa, the persistence of poor outcomes underscores the need to examine recent interventions to inform future research, programming and policy. Because men in this context have an outsize role in reproductive decision making, assessing their involvement in reproductive health programs is an important step in meeting men's needs, supporting women's health and improving family health.
A scoping review was conducted to identify relevant literature and assess evidence of the impact of male involvement in reproductive health interventions. Seven databases were searched using terms related to male involvement and reproductive health; searches were limited to research conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa and published in English between 2007 and 2018. Remaining studies were assessed by participant characteristics, settings, research design, theoretical frameworks, outcome measures and findings.
Searches identified 18 studies conducted in eight countries. Interventions engaged participants by using such strategies as community health workers, written invitation, peers, community or religious leaders and media campaigns. Results show that men are willing to participate in reproductive health programs and that their involvement is associated with increased uptake of family planning services, and HIV counseling and testing; reduction in risk behaviors; and improved maternal health and spousal communication.
Given the findings that male involvement is positively associated with improved reproductive health outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa, health providers and program planners should consider including men in reproductive health interventions, when feasible.
Chigozie A. Nkwonta is a postdoctoral fellow in the Arnold School of Public Health, and DeAnne K. H. Messias is professor emerita in the College of Nursing—both at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.