The Association between Travel Time and Prenatal Care Attendance

Am J Perinatol. 2020 Sep;37(11):1146-1154. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1692455. Epub 2019 Jun 12.


Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the association between a patient's travel time to clinic and her prenatal care attendance.

Study design: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of women (≥18 years) who received prenatal care and delivered at North Carolina Women's Hospital between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016 (n = 2,808 women, 24,021 appointments). We queried demographic data from the electronic medical record and calculated travel time with ArcGIS. Multinomial logistic regression models estimated the association between travel time and attendance, adjusted for sociodemographic covariates.

Results: For every 10 minutes of additional travel time, women were 1.05 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02-1.08, p < 0.001) times as likely to arrive late and 1.03 (95% CI: 1.01-1.04, p < 0.001) times as likely to cancel appointments than arrive on time. Travel time did not significantly affect a patient's likelihood of not showing for appointments. Non-Hispanic black patients were 71% more likely to arrive late and 51% more likely to not show for appointments than non-Hispanic white patients (p < 0.05). Publicly insured women were 28% more likely to arrive late to appointments and 82% more likely to not show for appointments than privately insured women (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Changes to transportation availability alone may only modestly affect outcomes compared with strategically improving access for sociodemographically marginalized women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • North Carolina
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Travel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult