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Critical Issues in Contraceptive and STI Acceptability Research


  • The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their excellent insights and suggestions. The conclusions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the policies of the University of Florida, Family Health International, or the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lawrence J. Severy, P.O. Box 13950, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 27709 [e-mail:].


We review conceptual issues and theoretical frameworks related to users' acceptability of new technologies designed to protect reproductive health and prevent unwanted pregnancy. Special attention is given to distinctions among different kinds of users' perspectives regarding acceptability, as well as differentiating acceptability from assessments of the efficacy of innovative methods. Emphasis is also given to the larger context of couple decision-making and cultural variation. We argue that concern for sexual pleasure plays a central role in determining user perspectives regarding new methods. The female condom, contraceptive ring, contraceptive skin patch, microbicides, vaccines, emergency contraception, and PERSONA are discussed within the context of the identified critical issues.