Bradley, Sarah E.K., Winfrey, William and Trevor N. Croft. 2015. Contraceptive Use and Perinatal
Mortality in the DHS: An Assessment of the Quality and Consistency of Calendars and Histories. DHS
Methodological Reports No. 17. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF International.
This study analyzes the quality of perinatal mortality and retrospective contraceptive prevalence rates calculated from various instruments used in the Demographic and Health Surveys.
Perinatal mortality: In this report we compared methods for estimating perinatal mortality in The DHS Program. None of the methods appear to adequately capture perinatal mortality by the standard that we selected. However, we found that the pregnancy history and the birth history supplemented by special questions performed better than the birth history supplemented by the reproductive calendar.
Contraceptive prevalence tabulated from the reproductive calendar: We assessed the consistency of contraceptive use reporting in the calendar by comparing retrospective contraceptive prevalence rates tabulated from the calendar with independently estimated current status contraceptive prevalence rates from a prior survey. We compared estimates from the two data sources for the same point in time among women in the same age groups. We found evidence of substantial underreporting of retrospective contraceptive use in the majority of calendars analyzed relative to current status estimates.
Results suggest that both stillbirths and contraceptive use are underestimated in data collected using the reproductive calendar. We recommend experiments in future DHS surveys: random assignment of some households to receive a birth history plus calendar and others a pregnancy history, or a forward pregnancy history versus a backward pregnancy history to assess the impact on reporting of stillbirths; and experiments with shorter calendars and potentially alternative methods of electronic data collection to assess the impact of these changes on reporting of contraceptive use and discontinuation.