Evaluation of midwifery care: results from a survey in rural Guatemala

Soc Sci Med. 2003 Feb;56(4):685-700. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(02)00065-5.


In an effort to reduce infant and maternal morbidity and mortality in developing countries, the World Health Organization has promoted the training of traditional birth attendants (midwives) and their incorporation into the formal health care system. In this paper, we examine several aspects of the integration of traditional and biomedical maternity care that are likely to reflect the quality of care received by Guatemalan women. Specifically, we examine the extent to which women combine traditional and biomedical pregnancy care, the frequency with which midwives refer women to biomedical providers, the content and quality of care offered by midwives, and the effects of midwife training programs on referral practices and quality of care. The analysis is based on data from the 1995 Guatemalan Survey of Family Health. The results offer a mixed assessment of the efficacy of midwife training programs. For example, although trained midwives are much more likely than other midwives to refer their clients to biomedical providers, most pregnant women do not see a biomedical provider, and the quality of midwife care, as defined and measured in this study, is similar between trained and untrained midwives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Workers / education
  • Community Health Workers / standards
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Guatemala
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Health Services / standards*
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Midwifery / education*
  • Midwifery / standards*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Rural Population
  • World Health Organization