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BackgroundThe introduction of female-initiated drug-delivery methods, including vaginal rings, have proven to be a promising avenue to address sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies, which disproportionally affects women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Efficient uptake of existing and new technologies such as vaginal rings requires in depth understanding of product adherence. This remains a major challenge as data on adherence to vaginal rings from African countries is limited. In this study, we explored adherence of contraceptive vaginal ring (NuvaRing®) use in Kigali, Rwanda using a mixed methods approach.MethodsWe collected quantitative and qualitative data at multiple time points from women participating in a clinical trial exploring the safety and acceptability of either intermittent or continuous use of the NuvaRing®. Various adherence categories were used including monthly and cumulative adherence measurement. The quantitative data were analysed using R and the qualitative data were analysed using a deductive, content-analytical approach based on categories related to the quantitative adherence measures. All data were compared and triangulated.ResultsData from 120 enrolled participants showed that self-reported adherence was high at every study visit in both study groups. At first study visit 80% of the intermittent ring users and 79.7% of the continuous ring users reported perfect adherence (assessed as "the ring was never out"). Reporting of ring expulsions and removals were highest (28.3%) at the beginning of the trial. Self-reported perfect ring adherence increased during the study and reports of ring expulsions and removals declined as familiarity with this contraceptive method increased. The percentage of women with perfect cumulative adherence was non-significantly higher in the intermittent (61.7%) than in the continuous use group (54.3%). The low rate of discrepant adherence data after triangulation (6%) is in line with the perception of the participants as adherent throughout the study.ConclusionsSelf-reported adherence in both study groups was high with removals and expulsions being within the expected product range. Comprehensive adherence data triangulation allowed for a deeper understanding of context-driven behaviour that shaped adherence patterns and challenges. Our data categorisation and triangulation approach has shown potential for implementation in future vaginal ring studies aiming to better understand and measure adherence.

Original publication





Frontiers in global women's health

Publication Date





Rinda Ubuzima, Kigali, Rwanda.