Intended versus actual delivery location and factors associated with change in delivery location among pregnant women in Southern Province, Zambia: a prespecified secondary observational analysis of the ZamCAT

BMJ Open. 2022 Mar 7;12(3):e055288. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055288.


Objectives: This prespecified, secondary analysis of the Zambia Chlorhexidine Application Trial (ZamCAT) aimed to determine the proportion of women who did not deliver where they intended, to understand the underlying reasons for the discordance between planned and actual delivery locations; and to assess sociodemographic characteristics associated with concordance of intention and practice.

Design: Prespecified, secondary analysis from randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Recruitment occurred in 90 primary health facilities (HFs) with follow-up in the community in Southern Province, Zambia.

Participants: Between 15 February 2011 and 30 January 2013, 39 679 pregnant women enrolled in ZamCAT.

Secondary outcome measures: The location where mothers gave birth (home vs HF) was compared with their planned delivery location.

Results: When interviewed antepartum, 92% of respondents intended to deliver at an HF, 6.1% at home and 1.2% had no plan. However, of those who intended to deliver at an HF, 61% did; of those who intended to deliver at home, only 4% did; and of those who intended to deliver at home, 2% delivered instead at an HF. Among women who delivered at home, women who were aged 25-34 and ≥35 years were more likely to deliver where they intended than women aged 20-24 years (adjusted OR (aOR)=1.31, 95% CI=1.11 to 1.50 and aOR=1.32, 95% CI=1.12 to 1.57, respectively). Women who delivered at HFs had greater odds of delivering where they intended if they received any primary schooling (aOR=1.34, 95% CI=1.09 to 1.72) or more than a primary school education (aOR=1.54, 95% CI=1.17 to 2.02), were literate (aOR=1.33, 95% CI=1.119 to 1.58), and were not in the lowest quintile of the wealth index.

Conclusion: Discrepancies between intended and actual delivery locations highlight the need to go beyond the development of birth plans and exposure to birth planning messaging. More research is required to address barriers to achieving intentions of a facility-based childbirth.

Trial registration number: Registry (NCT01241318).

Keywords: epidemiology; maternal medicine; public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chlorhexidine*
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parturition
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Zambia


  • Chlorhexidine

Associated data