Immigrant and non-immigrant women's experiences of maternity care: a systematic and comparative review of studies in five countries

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014 Apr 29:14:152. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-14-152.


Background: Understanding immigrant women's experiences of maternity care is critical if receiving country care systems are to respond appropriately to increasing global migration. This systematic review aimed to compare what we know about immigrant and non-immigrant women's experiences of maternity care.

Methods: Medline, CINAHL, Health Star, Embase and PsychInfo were searched for the period 1989-2012. First, we retrieved population-based studies of women's experiences of maternity care (n = 12). For countries with identified population studies, studies focused specifically on immigrant women's experiences of care were also retrieved (n = 22). For all included studies, we extracted available data on experiences of care and undertook a descriptive comparison.

Results: What immigrant and non-immigrant women want from maternity care proved similar: safe, high quality, attentive and individualised care, with adequate information and support. Immigrant women were less positive about their care than non-immigrant women. Communication problems and lack of familiarity with care systems impacted negatively on immigrant women's experiences, as did perceptions of discrimination and care which was not kind or respectful.

Conclusion: Few differences were found in what immigrant and non-immigrant women want from maternity care. The challenge for health systems is to address the barriers immigrant women face by improving communication, increasing women's understanding of care provision and reducing discrimination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Communication Barriers
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / standards*
  • Obstetrics / standards*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Navigation
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Prejudice
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States