Objectives: Women of low socioeconomic status have been described as having suboptimal prenatal care, which in turn has been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Many types of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes have been developed, including programmes to improve prenatal care or smoking cessation during pregnancy, and their effects demonstrated. However, ethical critiques have included paternalism and lack of informed choice. Our objective was to determine if women and healthcare professionals (HPs) shared these concerns.
Design: Prospective qualitative research.
Setting: We included economically disadvantaged women, as defined by health insurance data, who participated in the French NAITRE randomised trial assessing a CCT programme during prenatal follow-up to improve pregnancy outcomes. The HP worked in some maternities participating in this trial.
Participants: 26 women, 14 who received CCT and 12 who did not, mostly unemployed (20/26), and - 7 HPs.
Interventions: We conducted a multicentre cross-sectional qualitative study among women and HPs who participated in the NAITRE Study to assess their views on CCT. The women were interviewed after childbirth.
Results: Women did not perceive CCT negatively. They did not mention feeling stigmatised. They described CCT as a significant source of aid for women with limited financial resources. HP described the CCT in less positive terms, for example, expressing concern about discussing cash transfer at their first medical consultation with women. Though they emphasised ethical concerns about the basis of the trial, they recognised the importance of evaluating CCT.
Conclusions: In France, a high-income country where prenatal follow-up is free, HPs were concerned that the CCT programme would change their relationship with patients and wondered if it was the best use of funding. However, women who received a cash incentive said they did not feel stigmatised and indicated that these payments helped them prepare for their baby's birth.
Trial registration number: NCT02402855.
Keywords: ethics (see medical ethics); health policy; organisation of health services; reproductive medicine.
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