Key Points

  • Three complementary surveys were conducted in 2009 to assess interest in and provision of couple-focused family planning services in Title X clinics. Data were collected from a nationally representative sample of adult female clients of Title X–funded clinics; a sample of their male partners; and clinic administrators.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the women receiving family planning services from Title X–funded clinics reported interest in attending couple-focused counseling or classes with their partner.
  • Women were most interested in “planning when to have a baby,” but clinics were more apt to cover “choosing and using birth control” and “talking with a partner about birth control.”
  • Among women in relationships, nine in 10 said their partner knew about their clinic visit; seven in 10 said their partner would accompany them if asked and another quarter said their partner would do so “if he had time.”
  • Two-thirds of women in relationships said they would like their partner to see a clinician at their clinic by himself. About half said they would like their partner to come to the clinic to talk to their clinician with them, but only one in four reported that their current partner had ever done so.
  • Clinic staff underestimated women’s interest in couple-focused services: Fewer than 50% of clinic administrators thought that women were interested in partner or couples’ services; however, 65% of all women reported interest in these services.
  • Although two-thirds of clinics offered couple-focused counseling, fewer than 40% actively recruited partners and only about one in 10 offered couple-focused classes or workshops.
  • Financial limits were the greatest barrier for clinics wanting to start or expand couple-focused services; eight in 10 clinic administrators reported that funding was inadequate, and half reported a shortage of staff trained to provide such services.
  • Given financial constraints, family planning providers seeking to expand couple-focused care may want to consider allowing and encouraging more partners to attend contraceptive counseling sessions, or ensuring that partners in the waiting room receive educational materials; both are strategies that could be incorporated without significant new resources.