Family Planning Decision Support

Our Challenge

At the heart of a healthy population is access to support for family planning services and the ability to make informed family planning decisions. Women face significant barriers in accessing family planning services to meet their reproductive health needs. As a result, unintended pregnancy rates remain high and more than 220 million women worldwide continue to face an unmet need for contraception.

Our Response

We develop and test innovations using an implementation science framework to achieve sustainable progress in family planning throughout the world. Our family planning strategy brings together leaders in our field to advance scientific discovery by evaluating novel family planning counseling tools and the success of transferable patient centered care delivery models.

These changes in patient care will allow women and their families to make truly informed reproductive health decisions and provide access to respectful and dignified family planning care.

Our Priority Areas

Our mission is to use innovation and technology to improve the lives of women and children. Health support technologies and novel data collection tools will bring the health care system closer to women and their families, bring their health concerns to the attention of decision makers, and reduce the unmet need for family planning.

By establishing and growing collaborations, we will responsibly scale and integrate these solutions to help women and their families, expand to other regions and populations and cultivate young innovators to ensure sustainability of this work.

Our passion for encouraging young Family Planning and Maternal-Child Health researchers has led to the development of projects that bring family planning and contraceptive information and support to women and their partners, provide daily support to women and newborns during the critical postpartum period, and understand adolescent needs for contraception.

Our implementation science framework for family planning and maternal health focuses on person-centered, novel approaches to reaching women. We design tools and improve health systems to empower and support women through family planning, pregnancy, and  the postpartum period.

Our Leadership

Family Planning Decision Support is led by Drs. Alison Drake and Jennifer Unger.

Alison Drake is an epidemiologist and Acting Assistant Professor in the UW Department of Global Health. Dr. Drake’s research interests include family planning, adolescent reproductive health, HIV prevention among women and adolescents, incident maternal HIV infections, and mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Jennifer Unger is an obstetrician-gynecologist and an Assistant Professor in the UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. As a clinical researcher, she is interested in designing and utilizing novel technologies and behavioral interventions for family planning and maternal child health (MCH) systems improvements.

Alison Drake, PhD, MPH

Jennifer Unger, MD, MPH, MS

Our Research

Male partner circumcision associated with lower Trichomonas vaginalis incidence among pregnant and postpartum Kenyan women: a prospective cohort study.
Jillian Pintye, Alison Drake, Jennifer Unger, Daniel Matemo, John Kinuthia R Scott McClelland, Grace John-Stewart 
Sex Transm Infect, 2016


Engaging Pregnant Women in Kenya with a Hybrid Computer-Human SMS Communication System.
Trevor Pierrier, Jennifer Unger
CHI, 2015


HSV/HIV Transmission Study and Partners PrEP Study Teams. Effectiveness of hormonal contraception in HIV-infected women using antiretroviral therapy: a prospective study.
M. Pyra, Renee Heffron
AIDS, 2015

Enhancing safer conception for HIV serodiscordant couples through mobile technologies (Fogarty International Center.
Renee Heffron

Building on our current work to pilot a client-centered, evidence-based safer conception intervention, the goal of this project is to develop and pilot mHealth tools to enhance safer conception planning by HIV discordant couples including SMS (i.e. text message) surveys to capture data on fertility signs and a tablet-based application to facilitate in-clinic counseling between providers and couples.


Immune activation during pregnancy and contraception in HIV-infected Kenyan women (NIH/NICHD K23)
Alison Roxby

This study will determine whether progesterone-based contraception and pregnancy are associated with increased local and systemic immune activation in Kenyan HIV-1-seropositive women, which will elucidate progesterone’s immunomodulatory properties.


Reproductive Planning for Women Veterans (Veterans Administration Health Services Research & Development CDA)
Lisa Callegari

We will design and test a novel reproductive planning decision aid intervention to improve reproductive planning decision quality and contraceptive use. This intervention employs innovative patient centered strategies, including reproductive planning and shared decision making, to address gaps in current reproductive health services and ultimately aims to improve reproductive and long-term health outcomes among women Veterans.


Mobile WACh (Mobile Solutions for Women’s and Children’s Health in Kenya) (NIH/NICHD K12)
Jennifer Unger

This randomized trial was designed to determine the effect of systematic provision of tailored one-way SMS or two-way SMS dialogue on uptake of MCH strategies including facility delivery, ANC attendance, infant immunizations, exclusive breast feeding and postpartum family planning uptake. We utilized a novel human-computer hybrid approach to deliver messaging to women targeted at increasing uptake of MCH and FP strategies.

Elizabeth Harrington, Family Planning Fellow
“Mobile phone SMS dialogue with women and their male partners (Mobile WACh XY) and postpartum contraceptive uptake in Kenya: A randomized controlled trial” (Mentors: Jennifer Unger, Alison Drake, Sarah Prager, Elizabeth Micks)


Julia Velonjara, Global WACh Certificate student,MPH candidate
“Determinants of contraceptive use among (Mentor: Alison Drake)


Melanie Andersen, Ob/Gyn Resident
“Reproductive desires and family planning and safer conception knowledge among HIV-serodiscordant couples in Kenya: A qualitative study” (Mentor: Jennifer Unger)


Bonnie Crouthamel, Ob/Gyn Resident
“Provider barriers to LARC for adolescents in Kenya” (Mentor: Jennifer Unger)


Mona Wiggins, Global WACh Certificate student; DNP candidate
“Family Planning Needs Assessment in Ahero & Bondo, Kenya: An Implementation Science Project” (Mentor: Alison Drake)