Improving health literacy through group antenatal care: a prospective cohort study

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017 Jul 14;17(1):228. doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1414-5.


Background: To examine whether exposure to group antenatal care increased women's health literacy by improving their ability to interpret and utilize health messages compared to women who received standard, individual antenatal care in Ghana.

Methods: We used a prospective cohort design. The setting was a busy urban district hospital in Kumasi, the second most populous city in Ghana. Pregnant women (N = 240) presenting for their first antenatal visit between 11 and 14 weeks gestation were offered participation in the study. A 27% drop-out rate was experienced due to miscarriage, transfer or failure to return for follow-up visits, leaving 184 women in the final sample. Data were collected using an individual structured survey and medical record review. Summary statistics as well as two sample t-tests or chi-square were performed to evaluate the group effect.

Results: Significant group differences were found. Women participating in group care demonstrated improved health literacy by exhibiting a greater understanding of how to operationalize health education messages. There was a significant difference between women enrolled in group antenatal care verses individual antenatal care for preventing problems before delivery, understanding when to access care, birth preparedness and complication readiness, intent to use a modern method of family planning postpartum, greater understanding of the components of breastfeeding and lactational amenorrhea for birth spacing, and intent for postpartum follow-up.

Conclusion: Group antenatal care as compared to individual care offers an opportunity to increase quality of care and improve maternal and newborn outcomes. Group antenatal care holds the potential to increase healthy behaviors, promote respectful maternity care, and generate demand for services. Group ANC improves women's health literacy on how to prevent and recognize problems, prepare for delivery, and care for their newborn.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric / education*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Group Processes*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Literacy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / psychology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Parturition / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires