Objective: To assess the quality of maternity care in an Indian metropolitan city.
Study design: Three-stage cluster randomised cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Sixty selected colonies of Delhi.
Population: One thousand eight hundred and one subjects (of 2286 eligible) were enrolled from 118 446 houses. Women who had delivered a live viable birth in the past 6 months were selected for the study.
Methods: In stage 1, 20 wards (of 150) were selected using a probability-proportionate-to-size systematic method. In stage 2, one colony from each income stratum (high, middle and low) was selected from each ward by simple random sampling. In stage 3, a house-to-house survey was conducted to recruit 30 women for administering a peer-reviewed and pilot-trialled questionnaire.
Main outcome measures: Caesarean section rate, induction rate and episiotomy rate.
Results: National health targets such as iron supplementation advice (>96%), tetanus vaccination (>81%), and ≥3 antenatal visits (>90%) were largely achieved across health care facilities but not in home deliveries. Interventions were lower in public than private hospitals: caesarean section [23.7% (20.2-27.7) versus 53.8% (49.3-58.3)], induction [20.6% (17.5-24.25) versus 30.8% (26.8-33.2)] and episiotomy [57.8% (52.3-63.1) versus 79.4% (71.0-85.9)]. Private hospitals achieved better labour support rates [1.1% (0.5-2.2) versus 14.6% (8.5-24.1)] and pain relief [0.9% (0.4-2.0) versus 9.9 (6.5-14.8)]. Pubic hair shaving [16.2% (11.5-22.5) versus 36.4% (29.9-43.4)], enema [20.2% (15.5-26.0) versus 57.3% (49.5-64.8)], and IV fluids during labour [44.0% (36.2-52.2) versus 38.7% (29.3-49.1)] were widely prevalent in public and private hospitals.
Conclusion: Present practices fall short of evidence-based guidelines, with relative overuse of interventions in private hospitals and deficiency of patient-centred practices such as labour support in public hospitals.
Keywords: Caesarean rate; India; evidence-based medicine; maternity care; quality of care; survey.
© 2014 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.