Maternity care services and culture: a systematic global mapping of interventions

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 30;9(9):e108130. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108130. eCollection 2014.


Background: A vast body of global research shows that cultural factors affect the use of skilled maternity care services in diverse contexts. While interventions have sought to address this issue, the literature on these efforts has not been synthesised. This paper presents a systematic mapping of interventions that have been implemented to address cultural factors that affect women's use of skilled maternity care. It identifies and develops a map of the literature; describes the range of interventions, types of literature and study designs; and identifies knowledge gaps.

Methods and findings: Searches conducted systematically in ten electronic databases and two websites for literature published between 01/01/1990 and 28/02/2013 were combined with expert-recommended references. Potentially eligible literature included journal articles and grey literature published in English, French or Spanish. Items were screened against inclusion and exclusion criteria, yielding 96 items in the final map. Data extracted from the full text documents are presented in tables and a narrative synthesis. The results show that a diverse range of interventions has been implemented in 35 countries to address cultural factors that affect the use of skilled maternity care. Items are classified as follows: (1) service delivery models; (2) service provider interventions; (3) health education interventions; (4) participatory approaches; and (5) mental health interventions.

Conclusions: The map provides a rich source of information on interventions attempted in diverse settings that might have relevance elsewhere. A range of literature was identified, from narrative descriptions of interventions to studies using randomised controlled trials to evaluate impact. Only 23 items describe studies that aim to measure intervention impact through the use of experimental or observational-analytic designs. Based on the findings, we identify avenues for further research in order to better document and measure the impact of interventions to address cultural factors that affect use of skilled maternity care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Culturally Competent Care / ethics*
  • Culturally Competent Care / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Maternity / ethics
  • Hospitals, Maternity / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Mental Health / ethics
  • Mental Health / ethnology
  • Obstetrics / ethics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Workforce