Couple-Based Approaches in Reproductive Health: Implications for Global Policy, Practice, and Research

thumbnail image of the couples-focused intervention report and brief, fanned out. The report features a young couple from west africa The Evidence to Action (E2A) project has been drawing global attention to an important subset of youth—first-time parents (FTPs)—defined as young women under the age of 25 years who are pregnant with or have one child, and their male partners. Through implementing FTP programs in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso, we have learned that for many FTPs, their relationships with their partners may be transitional in nature, and the types of relationships that FTPs have vary from place to place. Even so, and despite the variety of relationships, FTPs across contexts expressed an interest in addressing key issues like communication and conflict management to improve the nature of their relationships. Couple-focused interventions (CFIs) are a potentially valuable strategy to address some of these challenges and accelerate progress towards achieving reproductive health goals.

This extensive technical report and summary brief comprises three core components—a literature review, a global reproductive health policy analysis, and key informant interviews—that explore the extent to which programs and policies consider couple-based approaches (CBAs) as a means to improve reproductive health outcomes, the reasons such approaches do not feature more prominently, and recommendations for program designers/implementers, policy makers, and researchers.

It is our hope is that through dissemination of the encouraging findings of this report, E2A can lay the groundwork and point the way to future programming which recognizes the essential role both women and men play in reproductive and family health.