Women and men’s preferences for delivery services in rural Ethiopia
Aims: This study aims to determine the combination of facility-based delivery care attributes preferred by women and men; if gender differences exist in attribute preferences; and key demographic factors associated with attribute preferences.
Background: Despite programs to promote facility-based delivery, which has been shown to decrease maternal and neonatal mortality, 80% of women in rural Ethiopia deliver at home without a skilled birth attendant.
A review of the Ethiopian literature on factors associated with delivery location revealed several weaknesses in research methods that need to be addressed. First, research participants were almost exclusively women, although male partners often make decisions about delivery location. Second, most quantitative study designs are similar in content to the Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey, limiting the generation of new knowledge. Third, cultural practices identified in qualitative studies as barriers to facility-based delivery have not been included in quantitative studies. This study addressed these weaknesses by using discrete choice experiment methodology to elicit preferences for delivery service attributes, including support persons in the delivery room, staff training and attitude, cost, distance and transportation availability.
Methods: A cross-sectional, discrete choice experiment was conducted in 109 randomly selected households in rural Ethiopia in September-October 2015. Women, who were pregnant or who had a child < 2 years old, and their male partners were interviewed. After completing a demographic questionnaire, male and female respondents were asked separately to choose between facility-based scenarios that reflected various attributes for delivering their next baby. Data were analyzed using a multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression model.
Results: Both women and men preferred health facilities where medications and supplies were available, a support person was allowed in the delivery room, cost was low, and doctors performed the delivery. Women also valued free ambulance service, while men favored nearby facilities with friendly providers. Men are disproportionately involved in making household decisions, including decisions about whether their wives seek health care. Yet, men are often unaware of their partners’ prenatal care attendance.
Implications: The Ethiopian government and health facilities could increase facility births in rural areas by responding to families’ delivery service preferences.