Influence of formal maternal education on the use of maternity services in Enugu, Nigeria

J Obstet Gynaecol. 2006 Jan;26(1):30-4. doi: 10.1080/01443610500364004.


Although some previous studies have suggested formal maternal education as the most potent tool for reducing the mortality ratio in Nigeria, other studies found that the depressed Nigerian economy since 1986 has marginalised the benefits of education with the result that educated women stopped making use of existing health facilities because they could not afford the cost of health services. This study was carried out to determine the current influence of formal maternal education and other factors on the choice of place of delivery by pregnant women in Enugu, south-eastern Nigeria. It was a pre-tested interviewer-administered questionnaire study of women who delivered within 3 months before the date of data collection in the study area. In an increasing order of level of care, the outcome variable (place where the last delivery took place) was categorised into seven, with home deliveries representing the lowest category and private hospitals run by specialist obstetricians as the highest category. These were further sub-categorised into non-institutional deliveries and institutional deliveries. Maternal educational level was the main predictor variable. Other predictor variables were sociodemographic factors. Data analysis was by means of descriptive and inferential statistics including means, frequencies and chi2-tests at the 95% confidence (CI) level. Out of a total of 1,450 women to whom the questionnaires were administered, 1,095 women responded (a response rate of 75.5%). A total of 579 (52.9%) of the respondents delivered outside health institutions, while the remaining 516 (47.1%) delivered within health institutions. Regarding the educational levels of the respondents, 301 (27.5%) had no formal education; 410 (37.4%) had primary education; 148 (13.5%) secondary education and 236 (21.5%) post-secondary education. There was a significant positive correlation between the educational levels of the respondents and their husbands (r=0.86, p=0.000). With respect to occupational categories of the respondents, 88 (8.0%) of them belonged to occupational class I, 158 (14.4%) to occupational class II, 107 (9.8%) to occupational class III, 14 (1.3%) to occupational class IV and 728 to occupational class V. There was a significant positive correlation between the respondents' and their husbands' occupational levels (r=0.89, p=0.000). There were statistically significant associations between choice of institutional or non-institutional deliveries and respondents' educational level as well as place of residence (urban/rural), religion, tribe, marital status, occupational level, husband's occupational and educational levels, age and parity (p<or=0.05 for each variable). Further analysis of only the respondents who delivered within health institutions showed that there was a significant positive correlation between their educational levels and the level of care where they delivered (r=0.45, p=0.000). Significantly more of them with post-secondary education lived in the urban than in the rural areas, were Christians and were married to husbands of higher educational and economic levels. It is concluded that formal education is still a significant predictor of whether women deliver within or outside health institutions in Enugu, south- eastern Nigeria. Efforts at reducing maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria must increase the adult female literacy rate.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population