More Than a "Number": Perspectives of Prenatal Care Quality from Mothers of Color and Providers

Womens Health Issues. Mar-Apr 2018;28(2):158-164. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2017.10.014. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


Introduction: African American mothers and other mothers of historically underserved populations consistently have higher rates of adverse birth outcomes than White mothers. Increasing prenatal care use among these mothers may reduce these disparities. Most prenatal care research focuses on prenatal care adequacy rather than concepts of quality. Even less research examines the dual perspectives of African American mothers and prenatal care providers. In this qualitative study, we compared perceptions of prenatal care quality between African American and mixed race mothers and prenatal care providers.

Methods: Prenatal care providers (n = 20) and mothers who recently gave birth (n = 19) completed semistructured interviews. Using a thematic analysis approach and Donabedian's conceptual model of health care quality, interviews were analyzed to identify key themes and summarize differences in perspectives between providers and mothers.

Findings: Mothers and providers valued the tailoring of care based on individual needs and functional patient-provider relationships as key elements of prenatal care quality. Providers acknowledged the need for knowing the social context of patients, but mothers and providers differed in perspectives of "culturally sensitive" prenatal care. Although most mothers had positive prenatal care experiences, mothers also recalled multiple complications with providers' negative assumptions and disregard for mothers' options in care.

Conclusions: Exploring strategies to strengthen patient-provider interactions and communication during prenatal care visits remains critical to address for facilitating continuity of care for mothers of color. These findings warrant further investigation of dual patient and provider perspectives of culturally sensitive prenatal care to address the service needs of African American and mixed race mothers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Perception*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Vulnerable Populations