Predictors of prenatal care utilization

Soc Sci Med. 1988;27(2):167-72. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(88)90325-5.


Despite substantial evidence linking improved pregnancy outcomes with receipt of prenatal care and recent improvements in prenatal care utilization, specific subpopulations continue to receive inadequate or less than adequate care. The study reported here examined the predictive power of a set of variables describing the type of financial coverage available to the mother, attributes of the mother, father and family and characteristics of the health care system. A stratified random sample of mothers was generated from state birth certificate files and surveyed through the use of a mailed questionnaire. Stratification was designed to assure adequate representation of subgroups expected to receive less adequate prenatal care. The study findings indicate that there were deficiencies in prenatal care utilization and that these deficiencies were concentrated in specific areas and subpopulations within the state. While the majority of women in the study started prenatal care in the recommended first trimester, most did not maintain the recommended schedule of visits with their care provider. The following conditions were found to reduce the likelihood of receiving adequate care after controlling for service need: younger women (particularly adolescents); less educated (particularly those without a high school education); low income; longer travel time; Medicaid recipient; and rural resident. In addition, it was found that where one lives is a significant predictor of the adequacy of prenatal care even after controlling for all of the above variables. The authors conclude that it is important in assessing potential policy and program options for reducing differentials in prenatal care use to distinguish between economic and noneconomic barriers to utilization. Receipt of Medicaid does not assure adequate prenatal care use.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Medicaid / economics
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Care / economics
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States