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1.  Social capital and health in the least developed countries: A critical review of the literature and implications for a future research agenda 
Global public health  2013;8(9):983-999.
Research on the linkage between social capital and health has grown in recent years; however, there is a dearth of evidence from resource-poor countries. This review examines the association between social capital and physical health (including health behaviours) in the least developed countries (LDCs). Citations were searched using three databases from 1990 to 2011 using the keyword ‘social capital’ combined with the name of each of the 48 LDCs. Of the 14 studies reviewed, 12 took place in Africa and two in South Asia. All used cross-sectional study designs, including five qualitative and nine quantitative studies. The literature reviewed suggests that social capital is an important factor for improving health in resource-poor settings; however, more research is needed in order to determine the best measures for social capital and elucidate the mechanisms through which social capital affects health in the developing world. Future research on social capital and health in the developing world should focus on applying appropriate theoretical conceptualizations of social capital to the developing country context, adapting and validating instruments for measuring social capital, and examining multilevel models of social capital and health in developing countries.
doi:10.1080/17441692.2013.842259
PMCID: PMC4318243  PMID: 24172027
least developed countries; social capital; physical health; health behaviours; review
2.  Factors associated with institutional delivery in Ghana: the role of decision-making autonomy and community norms 
Background
In Ghana, the site of this study, the maternal mortality ratio and under-five mortality rate remain high indicating the need to focus on maternal and child health programming. Ghana has high use of antenatal care (95%) but sub-optimum levels of institutional delivery (about 57%). Numerous barriers to institutional delivery exist including financial, physical, cognitive, organizational, and psychological and social. This study examines the psychological and social barriers to institutional delivery, namely women’s decision-making autonomy and their perceptions about social support for institutional delivery in their community.
Methods
This study uses cross-sectional data collected for the evaluation of the Maternal and Newborn Referrals Project of Project Fives Alive in Northern and Central districts of Ghana. In 2012 and 2013, a total of 2,527 women aged 15 to 49 were surveyed at baseline and midterm (half in 2012 and half in 2013). The analysis sample of 1,606 includes all women who had a birth three years prior to the survey date and who had no missing data. To determine the relationship between institutional delivery and the two key social barriers—women’s decision-making autonomy and community perceptions of institutional delivery—we used multi-level logistic regression models, including cross-level interactions between community-level attitudes and individual-level autonomy. All analyses control for the clustered survey design by including robust standard errors in Stata 13 statistical software.
Results
The findings show that women who are more autonomous and who perceive positive attitudes toward facility delivery (among women, men and mothers-in-law) were more likely to deliver in a facility. Moreover, the interactions between autonomy and community-level perceptions of institutional delivery among men and mothers-in-law were significant, such that the effect of decision-making autonomy is more important for women who live in communities that are less supportive of institutional delivery compared to communities that are more supportive.
Conclusions
This study builds upon prior work by using indicators that provide a more direct assessment of perceived community norms and women’s decision-making autonomy. The findings lead to programmatic recommendations that go beyond individuals and engaging the broader network of people (husbands and mothers-in-law) that influence delivery behaviors.
doi:10.1186/s12884-014-0398-7
PMCID: PMC4247879  PMID: 25427853
Institutional delivery; Ghana; Maternal health; Autonomy; Social support
3.  Couples’ reports of household decision-making and the utilization of maternal health services in Bangladesh 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2012;75(12):2403-2411.
This study examines the association between maternal health service utilization and household decision-making in Bangladesh. Most studies of the predictors of reproductive health service use focus on women’s reports; however, men are often involved in these decisions as well. Recently, studies have started to explore the association between health outcomes and reports of household decision-making from both husbands and wives as matched pairs. Many studies of household decision-making emphasize the importance of the wife alone making decisions; however, some have argued that joint decision-making between husbands and wives may yield better reproductive health outcomes than women making decisions without input or agreement from their partners. Husbands’ involvement in decision-making is particularly important in Bangladesh because men often dominate household decisions related to large, health-related purchases. We use matched husband and wife reports about who makes common household decisions to predict use of antenatal and skilled delivery care, using data from the 2007 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey. Results from regression analyses suggest that it is important to consider whether husbands and wives give concordant responses about who makes household decisions since discordant reports about who makes these decisions are negatively associated with reproductive health care use. In addition, compared to joint decision-making, husband-only decision-making is negatively associated with antenatal care use and skilled delivery care. Finally, associations between household decision-making arrangements and health service utilization vary depending on whose report is used and the type of health service utilized.
doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.09.017
PMCID: PMC3523098  PMID: 23068556
Bangladesh; decision-making; husbands/wives; health service utilization; maternal health
4.  Husbands' involvement in delivery care utilization in rural Bangladesh: A qualitative study 
Background
A primary cause of high maternal mortality in Bangladesh is lack of access to professional delivery care. Examining the role of the family, particularly the husband, during pregnancy and childbirth is important to understanding women's access to and utilization of professional maternal health services that can prevent maternal mortality. This qualitative study examines husbands' involvement during childbirth and professional delivery care utilization in a rural sub-district of Netrokona district, Bangladesh.
Methods
Using purposive sampling, ten households utilizing a skilled attendant during the birth of the youngest child were selected and matched with ten households utilizing an untrained traditional birth attendant, or dhatri. Households were selected based on a set of inclusion criteria, such as approximate household income, ethnicity, and distance to the nearest hospital. Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted in Bangla with husbands in these households in June 2010. Interviews were transcribed, translated into English, and analyzed using NVivo 9.0.
Results
By purposefully selecting households that differed on the type of provider utilized during delivery, common themes--high costs, poor transportation, and long distances to health facilities--were eliminated as sufficient barriers to the utilization of professional delivery care. Divergent themes, namely husbands' social support and perceived social norms, were identified as underlying factors associated with delivery care utilization. We found that husbands whose wives utilized professional delivery care provided emotional, instrumental and informational support to their wives during delivery and believed that medical intervention was necessary. By contrast, husbands whose wives utilized an untrained dhatri at home were uninvolved during delivery and believed childbirth should take place at home according to local traditions.
Conclusions
This study provides novel evidence about male involvement during childbirth in rural Bangladesh. These findings have important implications for program planners, who should pursue culturally sensitive ways to involve husbands in maternal health interventions and assess the effectiveness of education strategies targeted at husbands.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-28
PMCID: PMC3364886  PMID: 22494576

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