Understanding pregnancy planning in a low-income country setting: Validation of the London measure of unplanned pregnancy in Malawi

Jennifer Hall*, Geraldine Barrett, Nicholas Mbwana, Andrew Copas, Address Malata, Judith Stephenson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The London Measure of Unplanned Pregnancy (LMUP) is a new and psychometrically valid measure of pregnancy intention that was developed in the United Kingdom. An improved understanding of pregnancy intention in low-income countries, where unintended pregnancies are common and maternal and neonatal deaths are high, is necessary to inform policies to address the unmet need for family planning. To this end this research aimed to validate the LMUP for use in the Chichewa language in Malawi.Methods: Three Chichewa speakers translated the LMUP and one translation was agreed which was back-translated and pre-tested on five pregnant women using cognitive interviews. The measure was field tested with pregnant women who were recruited at antenatal clinics and data were analysed using classical test theory and hypothesis testing.Results: 125 women aged 15-43 (median 23), with parities of 1-8 (median 2) completed the Chichewa LMUP. There were no missing data. The full range of LMUP scores was captured. In terms of reliability, the scale was internally consistent (Cronbach's alpha = 0.78) and test-retest data from 70 women showed good stability (weighted Kappa 0.80). In terms of validity, hypothesis testing confirmed that unmarried women (p = 0.003), women who had four or more children alive (p = 0.0051) and women who were below 20 or over 29 (p = 0.0115) were all more likely to have unintended pregnancies. Principal component analysis showed that five of the six items loaded onto one factor, with a further item borderline. A sensitivity analysis to assess the effect of the removal of the weakest item of the scale showed slightly improved performance but as the LMUP was not significantly adversely affected by its inclusion we recommend retaining the six-item score.Conclusion: The Chichewa LMUP is a valid and reliable measure of pregnancy intention in Malawi and can now be used in research and/or surveillance. This is the first validation of this tool in a low-income country, helping to demonstrate that the concept of pregnancy planning is applicable in such a setting. Use of the Chichewa LMUP can enhance our understanding of pregnancy intention in Malawi, giving insight into the family planning services that are required to better meet women's needs and save lives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Dr Hall’s Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship, grant number 097268/Z/11/Z. The Wellcome Trust had no role in the design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.


  • Pregnancy intention validation Malawi measure unplanned


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