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Associations between self-reported obstetric complications and experience of care: a secondary analysis of survey data from Ghana, Kenya, and India.



Although several indicators have been proposed to measure women's experience of care in health facilities during the intrapartum period, it is unknown if these indicators perform differently in the context of obstetric emergencies. We examined the relationship between experience of care indicators from the Person-Centered Maternity Care (PCMC) scale and obstetric complications.


We used data from four cross-sectional surveys conducted in Kenya (rural: N = 873; urban: N = 531), Ghana (N = 531), and India (N = 2018) between August 2016 and October 2017. The pooled sample included 3953 women aged 15-49 years who gave birth within 9 weeks prior to the survey. Experience of care was measured using the PCMC scale. Univariate, bivariate, and multivariable analyses were conducted to examine the associations between the composite and 31 individual PCMC indicators with (1) obstetric complications; (2) severity of complications; and (3) delivery by cesarean section (c-section).


16% (632) of women in the pooled sample reported obstetric complications; and 4% (132) reported having given birth via c-Sect. (10.5% among those with complications). The average standardized PCMC scores (range 0-100) were 63.5 (SD = 14.1) for the full scale, 43.2 (SD = 20.6) for communication and autonomy, 67.8 (SD = 14.1) for supportive care, and 80.1 (SD = 18.2) for dignity and respect sub-scales. Women with complications had higher communication and autonomy scores (45.6 [SD = 20.2]) on average compared to those without complications (42.7 [SD = 20.6]) (p < 0.001), but lower supportive care scores, and about the same scores for dignity and respect and for the overall PCMC. 18 out of 31 experience of care indicators showed statistically significant differences by complications, but the magnitudes of the differences were generally small, and the direction of the associations were inconsistent. In general, women who delivered by c-section reported better experiences.


There is insufficient evidence based on our analysis to suggest that women with obstetric complications report consistently better or worse experiences of care than women without. Women with complications appear to experience better care on some indicators and worse care on others. More studies are needed to understand the relationship between obstetric complications and women's experience of care and to explore why women who deliver by c-section may report better experience of care.

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