Background: Antenatal care (ANC) provides a range of critical health services during pregnancy that can improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes. In Mozambique, only half of women receive four or more ANC visits, which are provided for free at public health centers by maternal and child health (MCH) nurses. Waiting time has been shown to contribute to negative client experiences, which may be a driver of low maternity care utilization. A recent pilot study of a program to schedule ANC visits demonstrated that scheduling care reduces waiting time and results in higher rates of complete ANC. This study aims to explore client experiences with waiting time for ANC in standard practice and care and after the introduction of appointment scheduling.
Methods: This study uses a series of qualitative interviews to unpack client experiences with ANC waiting time with and without scheduled care, in order to better understand the impact of waiting time on client experiences. Thirty-eight interviews were collected in May to June 2017 at three pilot study clinics in southern Mozambique, with a focus on two paired intervention and comparison facilities sharing similar facility characteristics. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis methods using NVivo software.
Results: Clients described strong motivations to seek ANC, pointing to the need to address convenience of care, and highlighted direct and indirect costs of seeking care that were exacerbated by long waiting times. Direct costs include time and transport costs of going to the clinic, while indirect costs include being unable to fulfill household and work obligations. Other barriers to complete ANC utilization of four or more visits include transport costs, negative provider experiences, and delayed ANC initiation, which limit the potential number of clinic contacts.
Conclusions: Findings demonstrate that the scheduling intervention improves the client experience of seeking care by allowing women to both seek ANC and fulfill other productive obligations. Innovation in healthcare delivery should consider adapting models that minimize waiting times.
Keywords: Antenatal care; Health services; Maternal and child health; Quality of care.