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Please understand when I cry out in pain: women's accounts of maternity services during labour and delivery in Ghana

, 1 , 2 , 1

BMC Public Health

BioMed Central

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      Abstract

      Background

      This study was undertaken to investigate women's accounts of interactions with health care providers during labour and delivery and to assess the implications for acceptability and utilisation of maternity services in Ghana.

      Methods

      Twenty-one individual in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted with women of reproductive age who had delivered in the past five years in the Greater Accra Region. The study investigated women's perceptions and experiences of care in terms of factors that influenced place of delivery, satisfaction with services, expectations of care and whether they would recommend services.

      Results

      One component of care which appeared to be of great importance to women was staff attitudes. This factor had considerable influence on acceptability and utilisation of services. Otherwise, a successful labour outcome and non-medical factors such as cost, perceived quality of care and proximity of services were important. Our findings indicate that women expect humane, professional and courteous treatment from health professionals and a reasonable standard of physical environment. Women will consciously change their place of delivery and recommendations to others if they experience degrading and unacceptable behaviour.

      Conclusion

      The findings suggest that inter-personal aspects of care are key to women's expectations, which in turn govern satisfaction. Service improvements which address this aspect of care are likely to have an impact on health seeking behaviour and utilisation. Our findings suggest that user-views are important and warrant further investigation. The views of providers should also be investigated to identify channels by which service improvements, taking into account women's views, could be operationalised. We also recommend that interventions to improve delivery care should not only be directed to the health professional, but also to general health system improvements.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 41

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      The Prevention of Maternal Mortality Program is a collaborative effort of Columbia University's Center for Population and Family Health and multidisciplinary teams of researchers from Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Program goals include dissemination of information to those concerned with preventing maternal deaths. This review, which presents findings from a broad body of research, is part of that activity. While there are numerous factors that contribute to maternal mortality, we focus on those that affect the interval between the onset of obstetric complication and its outcome. If prompt, adequate treatment is provided, the outcome will usually be satisfactory; therefore, the outcome is most adversely affected by delayed treatment. We examine research on the factors that: (1) delay the decision to seek care; (2) delay arrival at a health facility; and (3) delay the provision of adequate care. The literature clearly indicates that while distance and cost are major obstacles in the decision to seek care, the relationships are not simple. There is evidence that people often consider the quality of care more important than cost. These three factors--distance, cost and quality--alone do not give a full understanding of decision-making process. Their salience as obstacles is ultimately defined by illness-related factors, such as severity. Differential use of health services is also shaped by such variables as gender and socioeconomic status. Patients who make a timely decision to seek care can still experience delay, because the accessibility of health services is an acute problem in the developing world. In rural areas, a woman with an obstetric emergency may find the closest facility equipped only for basic treatments and education, and she may have no way to reach a regional center where resources exist. Finally, arriving at the facility may not lead to the immediate commencement of treatment. Shortages of qualified staff, essential drugs and supplies, coupled with administrative delays and clinical mismanagement, become documentable contributors to maternal deaths. Findings from the literature review are discussed in light of their implications for programs. Options for health programs are offered and examples of efforts to reduce maternal deaths are presented, with an emphasis on strategies to mobilize and adapt existing resources.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]IMMPACT, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
            [2 ]Health Research Unit, Ghana Health Service, Accra, Ghana
            Contributors
            Journal
            BMC Public Health
            BMC Public Health
            BioMed Central (London )
            1471-2458
            2005
            22 December 2005
            : 5
            : 140
            1343547
            1471-2458-5-140
            16372911
            10.1186/1471-2458-5-140
            Copyright © 2005 D'Ambruoso et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Research Article

            Public health

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