Understanding Men's Involvement in Family Planning Care in The Philippines (2019-2020)


Globally, family planning is primarily female-centered, even though male preferences around family planning are important drivers for reproductive behavior and contraceptive use. In low- and middle-income countries, the presence of men in most family planning clinics is negligible, with significant social and cultural barriers to access and acceptance of services.

Men’s participation is crucial because it can increase success of family planning programs, increase women’s empowerment and outcomes in reproductive health, improve the likelihood that babies are born healthy and to prepared parents and increase integration of men into primary care services from an earlier age. Yet, the focus on the integration of men into family planning programs is still limited and can often be attributed to lack of information and inaccessibility of services.

Recently, however, there has been a positive shift in attitudes toward family planning across low- and middle-income countries in Asia. This presents an opportunity to develop innovative, evidence-based approaches to better integrate men by approaching care delivery from a family-focused perspective.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project will seek to understand men’s involvement in family planning in the Philippines with a focus on existing barriers and existing facilitators. The main objective is to build on data collected by two team members in the Philippines and leverage partnerships and infrastructure that will allow for a robust and comprehensive analysis of barriers and facilitators influencing effective integration of men into family planning care delivery.

The project will utilize the Ecological Model for Health Promotion as a theoretical framework to guide data collection and analysis. In this model, there are five levels that influence health behaviors: public policy, community, institutional, interpersonal processes and intrapersonal factors. The team will use a mixed-methods approach to collect data to support each of the five levels of the framework.

The team will address the following major questions:

  • What are national policies, initiatives and regulations that affect care offered to men in family planning settings?
  • What are the community and institutional influences on men seeking care within family planning settings?
  • What are the formal and informal social networks and support systems Filipino men in this region have, and what influence do those networks have in family planning involvement, decision-making and care?
  • What are the local knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and beliefs of Filipino men as they pertain to seeking care in family planningsettings?

Anticipated Outputs

Presentation of findings at annual family planning conference; literature review and database manuscripts for publication; recommendations for improvement of family planning support services for submission to Philippines Department of Health

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this team will include 2-4 undergraduate students and 1-2 graduate students. Students affiliated with the Duke Global Health Institute, the social science departments within Trinity and/or Sanford, the School of Nursing and/or the School of Medicine are encouraged to apply.

Prospective applicants are not required to have a global health background or research experience as students will engage in training throughout the project period to meet research needs. However, ideal students will have a stated interest in both global health and research. While not required, some ability in conversational Tagalog would also be desirable.

A Ph.D. student will be the project manager working closely with co-leads to coordinate and track adherence to timelines.

Student team members will be engaged in all levels of the research process from idea development to knowledge dissemination on a critical global health topic. All students will contribute to project design, development of data collection tools, IRB submission and data analysis. Student team members will also contribute to the production of two manuscripts for publication and have the opportunity to engage in data dissemination at national/international conferences.

With faculty mentorship, selected students will also actively engage in the process of data collection and analysis in the Philippines. There may be an optional Summer 2020 component, to be determined. Student travel opportunities are to be determined.


Fall 2019 – Summer 2020

  • Fall 2019: Begin bimonthly team meetings with specific learning objectives in research modeling, data collection and cultural sensitivity; attend meeting with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) global scientists; attend one RTI-hosted seminar; begin development of research tools and instruments; finalize formal research proposal and submit to IRB
  • Spring 2020: Continue bimonthly team meetings; continue engagement with RTI global scientists; write and submit literature review manuscript about men’s involvement in family planning
  • Summer 2020 (Optional): Field research/data collection for 4 weeks (June/July); begin data transcription, clean-up and development of analysis plan


Independent study credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available


Image: Hauling the net ashore, Philippines, by Bernard Spragg NZ, public domain

Hauling the net ashore, Philippines.

/faculty/staff Team Members

  • Sumedha Ariely, Duke Global Health Institute*
  • Cristina Bisson, RTI International*
  • Alexandra Cooper, Social Science Research Institute*
  • Eleanor Stevenson, School of Nursing*

/zcommunity Team Members

  • RTI International
  • Easter Dasmarinas, Strengthening Local Governance for Health (HealthGov) Project, RTI International