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1.  Addressing disparities in maternal health care in Pakistan: gender, class and exclusion 
Background
After more than two decades of the Safe Motherhood Initiative and Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing maternal mortality, women continue to die in childbirth at unacceptably high rates in Pakistan. While an extensive literature describes various programmatic strategies, it neglects the rigorous analysis of the reasons these strategies have been unsuccessful, especially for women living at the economic and social margins of society. A critical gap in current knowledge is a detailed understanding of the root causes of disparities in maternal health care, and in particular, how gender and class influence policy formulation and the design and delivery of maternal health care services. Taking Pakistan as a case study, this research builds upon two distinct yet interlinked conceptual approaches to understanding the phenomenon of inequity in access to maternal health care: social exclusion and health systems as social institutions.
Methods/Design
This four year project consists of two interrelated modules that focus on two distinct groups of participants: (1) poor, disadvantaged women and men and (2) policy makers, program managers and health service providers. Module one will employ critical ethnography to understand the key axes of social exclusion as related to gender, class and zaat and how they affect women’s experiences of using maternal health care. Through health care setting observations, interviews and document review, Module two will assess policy design and delivery of maternal health services.
Discussion
This research will provide theoretical advances to enhance understanding of the power dynamics of gender and class that may underlie poor women’s marginalization from health care systems in Pakistan. It will also provide empirical evidence to support formulation of maternal health care policies and health care system practices aimed at reducing disparities in maternal health care in Pakistan. Lastly, it will enhance inter-disciplinary research capacity in the emerging field of social exclusion and maternal health and help reduce social inequities and achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 5.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-80
PMCID: PMC3490894  PMID: 22871056
Social exclusion; Maternal health; Gender; Caste system; Pakistan; Health care system; Class; Health policy; Pregnancy and childbirth; Antenatal care
2.  High maternal mortality in rural south-west Ethiopia: estimate by using the sisterhood method 
Background
Estimation of maternal mortality is difficult in developing countries without complete vital registration. The indirect sisterhood method represents an alternative in places where there is high fertility and mortality rates. The objective of the current study was to estimate maternal mortality indices using the sisterhood method in a rural district in south-west Ethiopia.
Method
We interviewed 8,870 adults, 15–49 years age, in 15 randomly selected rural villages of Bonke in Gamo Gofa. By constructing a retrospective cohort of women of reproductive age, we obtained sister units of risk exposure to maternal mortality, and calculated the lifetime risk of maternal mortality. Based on the total fertility for the rural Ethiopian population, the maternal mortality ratio was approximated.
Results
We analyzed 8503 of 8870 (96%) respondents (5262 [62%] men and 3241 ([38%] women). The 8503 respondents reported 22,473 sisters (average = 2.6 sisters for each respondent) who survived to reproductive age. Of the 2552 (11.4%) sisters who had died, 819 (32%) occurred during pregnancy and childbirth. This provided a lifetime risk of 10.2% from pregnancy and childbirth with a corresponding maternal mortality ratio of 1667 (95% CI: 1564–1769) per 100,000 live births. The time period for this estimate was in 1998. Separate analysis for male and female respondents provided similar estimates.
Conclusion
The impoverished rural area of Gamo Gofa had very high maternal mortality in 1998. This highlights the need for strengthening emergency obstetric care for the Bonke population and similar rural populations in Ethiopia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-136
PMCID: PMC3534518  PMID: 23176124
High maternal mortality; Maternal mortality; Sisterhood method; Bonke; Gamo Gofa; Southwest Ethiopia; Ethiopia; Sub-Saharan Africa
3.  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
4.  Factors influencing the use of antenatal care in rural West Sumatra, Indonesia 
Background
Every year, nearly half a million women and girls needlessly die as a result of complications during pregnancy, childbirth or the 6 weeks following delivery. Almost all (99%) of these deaths occur in developing countries. The study aim was to describe the factors related to low visits for antenatal care (ANC) services among pregnant women in Indonesia.
Method
A total of 145 of 200 married women of reproductive age who were pregnant or had experienced birth responded to the questionnaire about their ANC visits. We developed a questionnaire containing 35 items and four sections. Section one and two included the women's socio demographics, section three about basic knowledge of pregnancy and section four contained two subsections about preferences about midwives and preferences about Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) and the second subsections were traditional beliefs. Data were collected using a convenience sampling strategy during July and August 2010, from 10 villages in the Tanjung Emas. Multiple regression analysis was used for preference for types of providers.
Results
Three-quarter of respondents (77.9%) received ANC more than four times. The other 22.1% received ANC less than four times. 59.4% received ANC visits during pregnancy, which was statistically significant compared to multiparous (p = 0.001). Women who were encouraged by their family to receive ANC had statistically significant higher traditional belief scores compared to those who encouraged themselves (p = 0.003). Preference for TBAs was most strongly affected by traditional beliefs (p < 0.001). On the contrary, preference for midwives was negatively correlated with traditional beliefs (p < 0.001).
Conclusions
Parity was the factor influencing women's receiving less than the recommended four ANC visits during pregnancy. Women who were encouraged by their family to get ANC services had higher traditional beliefs score than women who encouraged themselves. Moreover, traditional beliefs followed by lower income families had the greater influence over preferring TBAs, with the opposite trend for preferring midwives. Increased attention needs to be given to the women; it also very important for exploring women's perceptions about health services that they received.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-9
PMCID: PMC3298506  PMID: 22353252
Pregnant women; Traditional birth attendant and traditional beliefs
5.  Sleep education during pregnancy for new mothers 
Background
There is a high association between disturbed (poor quality) sleep and depression, which has lead to a consensus that there is a bidirectional relationship between sleep and mood. One time in a woman’s life when sleep is commonly disturbed is during pregnancy and following childbirth. It has been suggested that sleep disturbance is another factor that may contribute to the propensity for women to become depressed in the postpartum period compared to other periods in their life. Post Natal Depression (PND) is common (15.5%) and associated with sleep disturbance, however, no studies have attempted to provide a sleep-focused intervention to pregnant women and assess whether this can improve sleep, and consequently maternal mood post-partum. The primary aim of this research is to determine the efficacy of a brief psychoeducational sleep intervention compared with a control group to improve sleep management, with a view to reduce depressive symptoms in first time mothers.
Method
This randomised controlled trial will recruit 214 first time mothers during the last trimester of their pregnancy. Participants will be randomised to receive either a set of booklets (control group) or a 3hour psychoeducational intervention that focuses on sleep. The primary outcomes of this study are sleep-related, that is sleep quality and sleepiness for ten months following the birth of the baby. The secondary outcome is depressive symptoms. It is hypothesised that participants in the intervention group will have better sleep quality and sleepiness in the postpartum period than women in the control condition. Further, we predict that women who receive the sleep intervention will have lower depression scores postpartum compared with the control group.
Discussion
This study aims to provide an intervention that will improve maternal sleep in the postpartum period. If sleep can be effectively improved through a brief psychoeducational program, then it may have a protective role in reducing maternal postpartum depressive symptoms.
Registration details
This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Register under the registration number ACTRN12611000859987
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-155
PMCID: PMC3546917  PMID: 23244163
Sleep; New mothers; Postnatal; Postpartum; Depression; Psychoeducation
6.  The impact of training non-physician clinicians in Malawi on maternal and perinatal mortality: a cluster randomised controlled evaluation of the enhancing training and appropriate technologies for mothers and babies in Africa (ETATMBA) project 
Background
Maternal mortality in much of sub-Saharan Africa is very high whereas there has been a steady decline in over the past 60 years in Europe. Perinatal mortality is 12 times higher than maternal mortality accounting for about 7 million neonatal deaths; many of these in sub-Saharan countries. Many of these deaths are preventable. Countries, like Malawi, do not have the resources nor highly trained medical specialists using complex technologies within their healthcare system. Much of the burden falls on healthcare staff other than doctors including non-physician clinicians (NPCs) such as clinical officers, midwives and community health-workers. The aim of this trial is to evaluate a project which is training NPCs as advanced leaders by providing them with skills and knowledge in advanced neonatal and obstetric care. Training that will hopefully be cascaded to their colleagues (other NPCs, midwives, nurses).
Methods/design
This is a cluster randomised controlled trial with the unit of randomisation being the 14 districts of central and northern Malawi (one large district was divided into two giving an overall total of 15). Eight districts will be randomly allocated the intervention. Within these eight districts 50 NPCs will be selected and will be enrolled on the training programme (the intervention). Primary outcome will be maternal and perinatal (defined as until discharge from health facility) mortality. Data will be harvested from all facilities in both intervention and control districts for the lifetime of the project (3–4 years) and comparisons made. In addition a process evaluation using both quantitative and qualitative (e.g. interviews) will be undertaken to evaluate the intervention implementation.
Discussion
Education and training of NPCs is a key to improving healthcare for mothers and babies in countries like Malawi. Some of the challenges faced are discussed as are the potential limitations. It is hoped that the findings from this trial will lead to a sustainable improvement in healthcare and workforce development and training.
Trial registration
ISRCTN63294155
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-116
PMCID: PMC3506516  PMID: 23098408
7.  Timing of antenatal care for adolescent and adult pregnant women in south-eastern Tanzania 
Background
Early and frequent antenatal care attendance during pregnancy is important to identify and mitigate risk factors in pregnancy and to encourage women to have a skilled attendant at childbirth. However, many pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa start antenatal care attendance late, particularly adolescent pregnant women. Therefore they do not fully benefit from its preventive and curative services. This study assesses the timing of adult and adolescent pregnant women's first antenatal care visit and identifies factors influencing early and late attendance.
Methods
The study was conducted in the Ulanga and Kilombero rural Demographic Surveillance area in south-eastern Tanzania in 2008. Qualitative exploratory studies informed the design of a structured questionnaire. A total of 440 women who attended antenatal care participated in exit interviews. Socio-demographic, social, perception- and service related factors were analysed for associations with timing of antenatal care initiation using regression analysis.
Results
The majority of pregnant women initiated antenatal care attendance with an average of 5 gestational months. Belonging to the Sukuma ethnic group compared to other ethnic groups such as the Pogoro, Mhehe, Mgindo and others, perceived poor quality of care, late recognition of pregnancy and not being supported by the husband or partner were identified as factors associated with a later antenatal care enrolment (p < 0.05). Primiparity and previous experience of a miscarriage or stillbirth were associated with an earlier antenatal care attendance (p < 0.05). Adolescent pregnant women started antenatal care no later than adult pregnant women despite being more likely to be single.
Conclusions
Factors including poor quality of care, lack of awareness about the health benefit of antenatal care, late recognition of pregnancy, and social and economic factors may influence timing of antenatal care. Community-based interventions are needed that involve men, and need to be combined with interventions that target improving the quality, content and outreach of antenatal care services to enhance early antenatal care enrolment among pregnant women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-16
PMCID: PMC3384460  PMID: 22436344
8.  Reduced fetal movements 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2012;12(Suppl 1):A10.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-S1-A10
PMCID: PMC3428674
9.  In the Nepalese context, can a husband’s attendance during childbirth help his wife feel more in control of labour? 
Background
A husband’s support during childbirth is vital to a parturient woman’s emotional well-being. Evidence suggests that this type of support enables a woman to feel more in control during labour by reducing maternal anxiety during childbirth. However, in Nepal, where childbearing is considered an essential element of a marital relationship, the husband’s role in this process has not been explored. Therefore, we examined whether a woman in Nepal feels more in control during labour when her husband is present, compared to when another woman accompanies her or when she has no support person.
Methods
The study participants were low risk primigravida women in the following categories: women who gave birth with their husband present (n = 97), with a female friend present (n = 96), with mixed support (n = 11), and finally, a control group (n = 105). The study was conducted in the public maternity hospital in Kathmandu in 2011. The Labour Agentry Scale (LAS) was used to measure the extent to which women felt in control during labour. The study outcome was compared using an F-test from a one-way analysis of variance, and multiple regression analyses.
Results
The women who gave birth with their husband’s support reported higher mean LAS scores (47.92 ± 6.95) than the women who gave birth with a female friend’s support (39.91 ± 8.27) and the women in the control group (36.68 ± 8.31). The extent to which the women felt in control during labour was found to be positively associated with having their husband’s company during childbirth (β = 0.54; p < 0.001) even after adjusting for background variables. In addition, having a female friend’s company during childbirth was related to the women’s feeling of being in control during labour (β = 0.19; p < 0.001) but the effect size was smaller than for a husband’s company.
Conclusion
The results show that when a woman’s husband is present at the birth, she feels more in control during labour. This finding has strong implications for maternity practices in Nepal, where maternity wards rarely encourage a woman to bring her husband to a pregnancy appointment and to be present during childbirth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-49
PMCID: PMC3464724  PMID: 22698006
10.  Quality of antenatal care in Zambia: a national assessment 
Background
Antenatal care (ANC) is one of the recommended interventions to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. Yet in most Sub-Saharan African countries, high rates of ANC coverage coexist with high maternal and neonatal mortality. This disconnect has fueled calls to focus on the quality of ANC services. However, little conceptual or empirical work exists on the measurement of ANC quality at health facilities in low-income countries. We developed a classification tool and assessed the level of ANC service provision at health facilities in Zambia on a national scale and compared this to the quality of ANC received by expectant mothers.
Methods
We analysed two national datasets with detailed antenatal provider and user information, the 2005 Zambia Health Facility Census and the 2007 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), to describe the level of ANC service provision at 1,299 antenatal facilities in 2005 and the quality of ANC received by 4,148 mothers between 2002 and 2007.
Results
We found that only 45 antenatal facilities (3%) fulfilled our developed criteria for optimum ANC service, while 47% of facilities provided adequate service, and the remaining 50% offered inadequate service. Although 94% of mothers reported at least one ANC visit with a skilled health worker and 60% attended at least four visits, only 29% of mothers received good quality ANC, and only 8% of mothers received good quality ANC and attended in the first trimester.
Conclusions
DHS data can be used to monitor “effective ANC coverage” which can be far below ANC coverage as estimated by current indicators. This “quality gap” indicates missed opportunities at ANC for delivering effective interventions. Evaluating the level of ANC provision at health facilities is an efficient way to detect where deficiencies are located in the system and could serve as a monitoring tool to evaluate country progress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-151
PMCID: PMC3536568  PMID: 23237601
Maternal health services; Prenatal care; Health care quality; Africa South of the Sahara
11.  Relationship of postnatal depressive symptoms to infant temperament, maternal expectations, social support and other potential risk factors: findings from a large Australian cross-sectional study 
Background
From 2000 a routine survey of mothers with newborn infants was commenced in South Western Sydney. The survey included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors for postnatal depressive symptoms in women living in metropolitan Sydney, Australia.
Methods
Mothers (n=15,389) delivering in 2002 and 2003 were assessed at 2–3 weeks after delivery for risk factors for depressive symptoms. The binary outcome variables were EPDS >9 and >12. Logistic regression was used for the multivariate analysis.
Results
The prevalence of EPDS >9 was 16.93 per 100 (95% CI: 16.34 to 17.52) and EPDS >12 was 7.73 per 100 (95% CI: 6.96 to 7.78). The final parsimonious logistic regression models included measures of infant behaviour, financial stress, mother’s expectation of motherhood, emotional support, sole parenthood, social support and mother’s country of birth.
Conclusions
Infant temperament and unmet maternal expectations have a strong association with depressive symptoms with implications for the design of both preventative and treatment strategies. The findings also support the proposition that social exclusion and social isolation are important determinants of maternal depression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-148
PMCID: PMC3556157  PMID: 23234239
Postnatal depression; Temperament; Maternal expectations; Social support; Social isolation; Migrant
12.  Striving for scientific stringency: a re-analysis of a randomised controlled trial considering first-time mothers’ obstetric outcomes in relation to birth position 
Background
The aim of this study was to compare maternal labour and birth outcomes between women who gave birth on a birth seat or in any other position for vaginal birth and further, to study the relationship between synthetic oxytocin augmentation and maternal blood loss, in a stratified sample.
Methods
A re-analysis of a randomized controlled trial in Sweden. An on-treatment analysis was used to study obstetrical outcomes for nulliparous women who gave birth on a birth seat (birth seat group) compared to birth in any other position for vaginal birth (control group). Data were collected between November 2006 and July 2009. The outcome measurements included perineal outcome, post partum blood loss, epidural analgesia, synthetic oxytocin augmentation and duration of labour.
Results
The major findings of this paper were that women giving birth on the birth seat had shorter duration of labour and were significantly less likely to receive synthetic oxytocin for augmentation in the second stage of labour. Significantly more women had an increased blood loss when giving birth on the birth seat, but had no difference in perineal outcomes. Blood loss was increased regardless of birth position if women had been exposed to synthetic oxytocin augmentation during the first stage of labour.
Conclusions
The results of this analysis imply that women with a straightforward birth process may well benefit from giving birth on a birth seat without risk for any adverse obstetrical outcomes. However it is important to bear in mind that, women who received synthetic oxytocin during the first stage of labour may have an increased risk for greater blood loss when giving birth on a birth seat. Finally it is of vital importance to scrutinize the influence of synthetic oxytocin administered during the first stage of labour on blood loss postpartum, since excessive blood loss is a well-documented cause of maternal mortality worldwide and may cause severe maternal morbidity in high-income countries.
Trial registration
Unique Protocol ID: NCT01182038 ( http://register.clinicaltrials.gov)
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-135
PMCID: PMC3542096  PMID: 23173988
13.  Validity and reliability of criterion based clinical audit to assess obstetrical quality of care in West Africa 
Background
In Mali and Senegal, over 1% of women die giving birth in hospital. At some hospitals, over a third of infants are stillborn. Many deaths are due to substandard medical practices. Criterion-based clinical audits (CBCA) are increasingly used to measure and improve obstetrical care in resource-limited settings, but their measurement properties have not been formally evaluated. In 2011, we published a systematic review of obstetrical CBCA highlighting insufficient considerations of validity and reliability. The objective of this study is to develop an obstetrical CBCA adapted to the West African context and assess its reliability and validity. This work was conducted as a sub-study within a cluster randomized trial known as QUARITE.
Methods
Criteria were selected based on extensive literature review and expert opinion. Early 2010, two auditors applied the CBCA to identical samples at 8 sites in Mali and Senegal (n = 185) to evaluate inter-rater reliability. In 2010–11, we conducted CBCA at 32 hospitals to assess construct validity (n = 633 patients). We correlated hospital characteristics (resource availability, facility perinatal and maternal mortality) with mean hospital CBCA scores. We used generalized estimating equations to assess whether patient CBCA scores were associated with perinatal mortality.
Results
Results demonstrate substantial (ICC = 0.67, 95% CI 0.54; 0.76) to elevated inter-rater reliability (ICC = 0.84, 95% CI 0.77; 0.89) in Senegal and Mali, respectively. Resource availability positively correlated with mean hospital CBCA scores and maternal and perinatal mortality were inversely correlated with hospital CBCA scores. Poor CBCA scores, adjusted for hospital and patient characteristics, were significantly associated with perinatal mortality (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.01-3.34).
Conclusion
Our CBCA has substantial inter-rater reliability and there is compelling evidence of its validity as the tool performs according to theory.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN46950658
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-118
PMCID: PMC3514290  PMID: 23106962
Criterion-based clinical audit; Questionnaire development; Quality of care; Validity; Reliability; Resource-limited settings
14.  Making pragmatic choices: women’s experiences of delivery care in Northern Ethiopia 
Background
In 2003, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health launched the Health Extension Programme (HEP), which was intended to increase access to reproductive health care. Despite enormous effort, utilization of maternal health services remains limited, and the reasons for the low utilization of the services offered through the HEP previously have not been explored in depth.
This study explores women’s experiences and perceptions regarding delivery care in Tigray, a northern region of Ethiopia, and enables us to make suggestions for better implementation of maternal health care services in this setting.
Methods
We used six focus group discussions with 51 women to explore perceptions and experiences regarding delivery care. The data were analysed by means of grounded theory.
Results
One core category emerged, ‘making pragmatic choices’, which connected the categories ‘aiming for safer deliveries’, ‘embedded in tradition’, and ‘medical knowledge under constrained circumstances’. In this setting, women – aiming for safer deliveries – made choices pragmatically between the two available models of childbirth. On the one hand, choice of home delivery, represented by the category ‘embedded in tradition’, was related to their faith, the ascendancy of elderly women, the advantages of staying at home and the custom of traditional birth attendants (TBAs). On the other, institutional delivery, represented by the category ‘medical knowledge under constrained circumstances’, and linked to how women appreciated medical resources and the support of health extension workers (HEWs) but were uncertain about the quality of care, emphasized the barriers to transportation.
In Tigray women made choices pragmatically and seemed to not feel any conflict between the two available models, being supported by traditional birth attendants, HEWs and husbands in their decision-making. Representatives of the two models were not as open to collaboration as the women themselves, however.
Conclusions
Although women did not see any conflict between traditional and institutional maternal care, the gap between the models remained and revealed a need to reconcile differing views among the caregivers. The HEP would benefit from an approach that incorporates all the actors involved in maternal care, at institutional, community and family levels alike. Reconsideration is required of the role of TBAs, and a well-designed, community-inclusive, coordinated and feasible referral system should be maintained.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-113
PMCID: PMC3542090  PMID: 23078068
15.  Can hospital audit teams identify case management problems, analyse their causes, identify and implement improvements? A cross-sectional process evaluation of obstetric near-miss case reviews in Benin 
Background
Obstetric near-miss case reviews are being promoted as a quality assurance intervention suitable for hospitals in low income countries. We introduced such reviews in five district, regional and national hospitals in Benin, West Africa. In a cross-sectional study we analysed the extent to which the hospital audit teams were able to identify case management problems (CMPs), analyse their causes, agree on solutions and put these solutions into practice.
Methods
We analysed case summaries, women’s interview transcripts and audit minutes produced by the audit teams for 67 meetings concerning one woman with near-miss complications each. We compared the proportion of CMPs identified by an external assessment team to the number found by the audit teams. For the latter, we described the CMP causes identified, solutions proposed and implemented by the audit teams.
Results
Audit meetings were conducted regularly and were well attended. Audit teams identified half of the 714 CMPs; they were more likely to find managerial ones (71%) than the ones relating to treatment (30%). Most identified CMPs were valid. Almost all causes of CMPs were plausible, but often too superficial to be of great value for directing remedial action. Audit teams suggested solutions, most of them promising ones, for 38% of the CMPs they had identified, but recorded their implementation only for a minority (8.5%).
Conclusions
The importance of following-up and documenting the implementation of solutions should be stressed in future audit interventions. Tools facilitating the follow-up should be made available. Near-miss case reviews hold promise, but their effectiveness to improve the quality of care sustainably and on a large scale still needs to be established.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-109
PMCID: PMC3561203  PMID: 23057707
Obstetrics; Near-miss complications; Quality assurance; Audit; Benin; West Africa
16.  Institutional delivery service utilization in Munisa Woreda, South East Ethiopia: a community based cross-sectional study 
Background
Reducing maternal morbidity and mortality is a global priority which is particularly relevant to developing countries like Ethiopia. One of the key strategies for reducing maternal morbidity and mortality is increasing institutional delivery service utilization of mothers under the care of skilled birth attendants. The aim of this study was to determine the level of institutional delivery service utilization and associated factors.
Methods
A community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted from April 1–20, 2011, among mothers who gave birth 12 months before the study began in Munesa Woreda, Arsi Zone, Oromia Region, Southeast Ethiopia. A stratified cluster sampling was used to select a sample of 855 participants.
Results
Out of all deliveries, only 12.3% took place at health facilities. Women who were urban residents (AOR = 2.27, 95%CI: 1.17, 4.40), women of age at interview less than 20 years (AOR = 6.06, 95%CI: 1.54, 23.78), women with first pregnancy (AOR = 2.41, 95%CI: 1.17, 4.97) and, women who had ANC visit during the last pregnancy (AOR = 4.18, 95%CI: 2.54, 6.89) were more likely to deliver at health institutions. Secondary and above level of mother`s and husband`s education had also a significant effect on health institution delivery with AOR = 4.31 (95%CI: 1.62, 11.46) and AOR = 2.77 (95%CI: 1.07, 7.19) respectively.
Conclusion
Institutional delivery service utilization was found to be low in the study area. Secondary and above level of mother`s and husband`s education, urban residence and ANC visit were amongst the main factors that had an influence on health institution delivery. Increasing the awareness of mothers and their partners about the benefits of institutional delivery services are recommended.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-105
PMCID: PMC3506545  PMID: 23043258
17.  Effects of hospital delivery during off-hours on perinatal outcome in several subgroups: a retrospective cohort study 
Background
Studies have demonstrated a higher risk of adverse outcomes among infants born or admitted during off-hours, as compared to office hours, leading to questions about quality of care provide during off-hours (weekend, evening or night). We aim to determine the relationship between off-hours delivery and adverse perinatal outcomes for subgroups of hospital births.
Methods
This retrospective cohort study was based on data from the Netherlands Perinatal Registry, a countrywide registry that covers 99% of all hospital births in the Netherlands. Data of 449,714 infants, born at 28 completed weeks or later, in the period 2003 through 2007 were used. Infants with a high a priori risk of morbidity or mortality were excluded. Outcome measures were intrapartum and early neonatal mortality, a low Apgar score (5 minute score of 0–6), and a composite adverse perinatal outcome measure (mortality, low Apgar score, severe birth trauma, admission to a neonatal intensive care unit).
Results
Evening and night-time deliveries that involved induction or augmentation of labour, or an emergency caesarean section, were associated with an increased risk of an adverse perinatal outcome when compared to similar daytime deliveries. Weekend deliveries were not associated with an increased risk when compared to weekday deliveries. It was estimated that each year, between 126 and 141 cases with an adverse perinatal outcomes could be attributed to this evening and night effect. Of these, 21 (15-16%) are intrapartum or early neonatal death. Among the 3100 infants in the study population who experience an adverse outcome each year, death accounted for only 5% (165) of these outcomes.
Conclusion
This study shows that for infants whose mothers require obstetric interventions during labour and delivery, birth in the evening or at night, are at an increased risk of an adverse perinatal outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-92
PMCID: PMC3496693  PMID: 22958736
Time of birth; Night; Weekend; Delivery; Perinatal mortality; Perinatal morbidity; Hospital care; Quality of health care
18.  Institutional delivery service utilization and associated factors among mothers who gave birth in the last 12 months in Sekela District, North West of Ethiopia: A community - based cross sectional study 
Background
Reduction of maternal mortality is a global priority particularly in developing countries including Ethiopia where maternal mortality ratio is one of the highest in the world. The key to reducing maternal mortality ratio and improving maternal health is increasing attendance by skilled health personnel throughout pregnancy and delivery. However, delivery service is significantly lower in Amhara Regional State, Ethiopia. Therefore, this study aimed to assess factors affecting institutional delivery service utilization among mothers who gave birth in the last 12 months in Sekela District, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
Methods
Community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among mothers with birth in the last 12 months during August, 2010. Multistage sampling technique was used to select 371 participants. A pre tested and structured questionnaire was used to collect data. Bivariate and multivariate data analysis was performed using SPSS version 16.0 software.
Results
The study indicated that 12.1% of the mothers delivered in health facilities. Of 87.9% mothers who gave birth at home, 80.0% of them were assisted by family members and relatives. The common reasons for home delivery were closer attention from family members and relatives (60.9%), home delivery is usual practice (57.7%), unexpected labour (33.4%), not being sick or no problem at the time of delivery (21.6%) and family influence (14.4%). Being urban resident (AOR [95% CI] = 4.6 [1.91, 10.9]), ANC visit during last pregnancy (AOR [95% CI] = 4.26 [1.1, 16.4]), maternal education level (AOR [95%CI] =11.98 [3.36, 41.4]) and knowledge of mothers on pregnancy and delivery services (AOR [95% CI] = 2.97[1.1, 8.6]) had significant associations with institutional delivery service utilization.
Conclusions
Very low institutional delivery service utilization was observed in the study area. Majority of the births at home were assisted by family members and relatives. ANC visit and lack of knowledge on pregnancy and delivery services were found to be associated with delivery service utilization. Strategies with focus on increasing ANC uptake and building knowledge of the mothers and their partners would help to increase utilization of the service. Training and assigning skilled attendants at Health Posta level to provide skilled home delivery would improve utilization of the service.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-74
PMCID: PMC3449175  PMID: 22849421
Institutional delivery service utilization; Preferred place of delivery; Sekela District
20.  Getting more than they realized they needed: a qualitative study of women's experience of group prenatal care 
Background
Pregnant women in Canada have traditionally received prenatal care individually from their physicians, with some women attending prenatal education classes. Group prenatal care is a departure from these practices providing a forum for women to experience medical care and child birth education simultaneously and in a group setting. Although other qualitative studies have described the experience of group prenatal care, this is the first which sought to understand the central meaning or core of the experience. The purpose of this study was to understand the central meaning of the experience of group prenatal care for women who participated in CenteringPregnancy through a maternity clinic in Calgary, Canada.
Methods
The study used a phenomenological approach. Twelve women participated postpartum in a one-on-one interview and/or a group validation session between June 2009 and July 2010.
Results
Six themes emerged: (1) "getting more in one place at one time"; (2) "feeling supported"; (3) "learning and gaining meaningful information"; (4) "not feeling alone in the experience"; (5) "connecting"; and (6) "actively participating and taking on ownership of care". These themes contributed to the core phenomenon of women "getting more than they realized they needed". The active sharing among those in the group allowed women to have both their known and subconscious needs met.
Conclusions
Women's experience of group prenatal care reflected strong elements of social support in that women had different types of needs met and felt supported. The findings also broadened the understanding of some aspects of social support beyond current theories. In a contemporary North American society, the results of this study indicate that women gain from group prenatal care in terms of empowerment, efficiency, social support and education in ways not routinely available through individual care. This model of care could play a key role in addressing women's needs and improving health outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-17
PMCID: PMC3364900  PMID: 22436393
Canada; Prenatal care; Pregnant women; Women's health; Social support
21.  The influence of women’s fear, attitudes and beliefs of childbirth on mode and experience of birth 
Background
Women’s fears and attitudes to childbirth may influence the maternity care they receive and the outcomes of birth. This study aimed to develop profiles of women according to their attitudes regarding birth and their levels of childbirth related fear. The association of these profiles with mode and outcomes of birth was explored.
Methods
Prospective longitudinal cohort design with self report questionnaires containing a set of attitudinal statements regarding birth (Birth Attitudes Profile Scale) and a fear of birth scale (FOBS). Pregnant women responded at 18-20 weeks gestation and two months after birth from a regional area of Sweden (n = 386) and a regional area of Australia (n = 123). Cluster analysis was used to identify a set of profiles. Odds ratios (95% CI) were calculated, comparing cluster membership for country of care, pregnancy characteristics, birth experience and outcomes.
Results
Three clusters were identified – ‘Self determiners’ (clear attitudes about birth including seeing it as a natural process and no childbirth fear), ‘Take it as it comes’ (no fear of birth and low levels of agreement with any of the attitude statements) and ‘Fearful’ (afraid of birth, with concerns for the personal impact of birth including pain and control, safety concerns and low levels of agreement with attitudes relating to women’s freedom of choice or birth as a natural process). At 18 -20 weeks gestation, when compared to the ‘Self determiners’, women in the ‘Fearful’ cluster were more likely to: prefer a caesarean (OR = 3.3 CI: 1.6-6.8), hold less than positive feelings about being pregnant (OR = 3.6 CI: 1.4-9.0), report less than positive feelings about the approaching birth (OR = 7.2 CI: 4.4-12.0) and less than positive feelings about the first weeks with a newborn (OR = 2.0 CI 1.2-3.6). At two months post partum the ‘Fearful’ cluster had a greater likelihood of having had an elective caesarean (OR = 5.4 CI 2.1-14.2); they were more likely to have had an epidural if they laboured (OR = 1.9 CI 1.1-3.2) and to experience their labour pain as more intense than women in the other clusters. The ‘Fearful’ cluster were more likely to report a negative experience of birth (OR = 1.7 CI 1.02- 2.9). The ‘Take it as it comes’ cluster had a higher likelihood of an elective caesarean (OR 3.0 CI 1.1-8.0).
Conclusions
In this study three clusters of women were identified. Belonging to the ‘Fearful’ cluster had a negative effect on women’s emotional health during pregnancy and increased the likelihood of a negative birth experience. Both women in the ‘Take it as it comes’ and the ‘Fearful’ cluster had higher odds of having an elective caesarean compared to women in the ‘Self determiners’. Understanding women’s attitudes and level of fear may help midwives and doctors to tailor their interactions with women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-55
PMCID: PMC3449179  PMID: 22727217
Pregnancy; Attitudes; Childbirth fear; Cluster analysis; Scale
22.  Father for the first time - development and validation of a questionnaire to assess fathers’ experiences of first childbirth (FTFQ) 
Background
A father’s experience of the birth of his first child is important not only for his birth-giving partner but also for the father himself, his relationship with the mother and the newborn. No validated questionnaire assessing first-time fathers' experiences during childbirth is currently available. Hence, the aim of this study was to develop and validate an instrument to assess first-time fathers’ experiences of childbirth.
Method
Domains and items were initially derived from interviews with first-time fathers, and supplemented by a literature search and a focus group interview with midwives. The comprehensibility, comprehension and relevance of the items were evaluated by four paternity research experts and a preliminary questionnaire was pilot tested in eight first-time fathers. A revised questionnaire was completed by 200 first-time fathers (response rate = 81%) Exploratory factor analysis using principal component analysis with varimax rotation was performed and multitrait scaling analysis was used to test scaling assumptions. External validity was assessed by means of known-groups analysis.
Results
Factor analysis yielded four factors comprising 22 items and accounting 48% of the variance. The domains found were Worry, Information, Emotional support and Acceptance. Multitrait analysis confirmed the convergent and discriminant validity of the domains; however, Cronbach’s alpha did not meet conventional reliability standards in two domains. The questionnaire was sensitive to differences between groups of fathers hypothesized to differ on important socio demographic or clinical variables.
Conclusions
The questionnaire adequately measures important dimensions of first-time fathers’ childbirth experience and may be used to assess aspects of fathers’ experiences during childbirth. To obtain the FTFQ and permission for its use, please contact the corresponding author.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-35
PMCID: PMC3523014  PMID: 22594834
Fathers; Childbirth; Questionnaire; Validity; Reliability
23.  Congenital anomalies among live births in a polluted area. A ten-year retrospective study 
Background
Congenital anomalies and their primary prevention are a crucial public health issue. This work aimed to estimate the prevalence of congenital anomalies in Brindisi, a city in southeastern Italy at high risk of environmental crisis.
Methods
This research concerned newborns up to 28 days of age, born between 2001 and 2010 to mothers resident in Brindisi and discharged with a diagnosis of congenital anomaly. We classified cases according to the coding system adopted by the European Network for the Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT). Prevalence rates of congenital anomalies in Brindisi were compared with those reported by EUROCAT. Logistic regression models were adapted to evaluate the association between congenital anomalies and municipality of residence of the mother during pregnancy.
Results
Out of 8,503 newborns we recorded 194 subjects with congenital anomalies (228.2/10,000 total births), 1.2 times higher than the one reported by the EUROCAT pool of registries. We observed 83 subjects with congenital heart diseases with an excess of 49.1%. Odds Ratios for congenital heart diseases significantly increased for newborns to mothers resident in Brindisi (OR 1.75 CI 95% 1.30-2.35).
Conclusions
Our findings indicated an increased prevalence of Congenital Anomalies (especially congenital heart diseases) in the city of Brindisi. More research is needed in order to analyze the role of factors potentially involved in the causation of congenital anomalies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-165
PMCID: PMC3543709  PMID: 23270371
Congenital anomalies; Hospital discharge data; Surveillance of birth defects; Registers of congenital anomalies
24.  Contradictions and conflict: A meta-ethnographic study of migrant women’s experiences of breastfeeding in a new country 
Background
Studies report mixed findings about rates of both exclusive and partial breastfeeding amongst women who are migrants or refugees in high income countries. It is important to understand the beliefs and experiences that impact on migrant and refugee women’s infant feeding decisions in order to appropriately support women to breastfeed in a new country. The aim of this paper is to report the findings of a meta-ethnographic study that explored migrant and refugee women’s experiences and practices related to breastfeeding in a new country.
Methods
CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, SCOPUS and the Cochrane Library with Full Text databases were searched for the period January 2000 to May 2012. Out of 2355 papers retrieved 11 met the inclusion criteria. A meta-ethnographic synthesis was undertaken using the analytic strategies and theme synthesis techniques of reciprocal translation and refutational investigation. Quality appraisal was undertaken using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool.
Results
Eight qualitative studies and three studies reporting both qualitative and quantitative data were included and one overarching theme emerged: ‘Breastfeeding in a new country: facing contradictions and conflict’. This theme comprised four sub-themes ‘Mother’s milk is best’; ‘Contradictions and conflict in breastfeeding practices’; ‘Producing breast milk requires energy and good health’; and ‘The dominant role of female relatives’. Migrant women who valued, but did not have access to, traditional postpartum practices, were more likely to cease breastfeeding. Women reported a clash between their individual beliefs and practices and the dominant practices in the new country, and also a tension with family members either in the country of origin or in the new country.
Conclusion
Migrant women experience tensions in their breastfeeding experience and require support from professionals who can sensitively address their individual needs. Strategies to engage grandmothers in educational opportunities may offer a novel approach to breastfeeding support.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-163
PMCID: PMC3546887  PMID: 23270315
Meta-ethnography; Breastfeeding; Migrant; Immigrant; Refugee; Colostrum; Qualitative research
25.  Professionals’ views of fetal monitoring during labour: a systematic review and thematic analysis 
Background
Current recommendations do not support the use of continuous electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) for low risk women during labour, yet EFM remains widespread in clinical practice. Consideration of the views, perspectives and experiences of individuals directly concerned with EFM application may be beneficial for identifying barriers to and facilitators for implementing evidence-based maternity care. The aim of this paper is to offer insight and understanding, through systematic review and thematic analysis, of research into professionals’ views on fetal heart rate monitoring during labour.
Methods
Any study whose aim was to explore professional views of fetal monitoring during labour was considered eligible for inclusion. The electronic databases of MEDLINE (1966–2010), CINAHL (1980–2010), EMBASE (1974–2010) and Maternity and Infant Care: MIDIRS (1971–2010) were searched in January 2010 and an updated search was performed in March 2012. Quality appraisal of each included study was performed. Data extraction tables were developed to collect data. Data synthesis was by thematic analysis.
Results
Eleven studies, including 1,194 participants, were identified and included in this review. Four themes emerged from the data: 1) reassurance, 2) technology, 3) communication/education and 4) midwife by proxy.
Conclusion
This systematic review and thematic analysis offers insight into some of the views of professionals on fetal monitoring during labour. It provides evidence for the continuing use of EFM when caring for low-risk women, contrary to current research evidence. Further research to ascertain how some of these views might be addressed to ensure the provision of evidence-based care for women and their babies is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-166
PMCID: PMC3549751  PMID: 23270400
Fetal monitoring; Pregnancy; Labour; Views

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