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Provider perceptions of lack of supportive care during childbirth: A mixed methods study in Kenya.


Supportive care is a key component of person-centered maternity care (PCMC), and includes aspects such as timely and attentive care, pain control, and the health facility environment. Yet, few researchers have explored the degree of supportive care delivered or providers' perceptions on supportive care practices during childbirth. The researchers' aim is to evaluate the extent of supportive care provided to women during childbirth and to identify the drivers behind the lack of supportive care from the perspective of maternity providers in a rural county in Western Kenya. Data are from a mixed-methods study in Migori County in Western Kenya with 49 maternity providers (32 clinical and 17 non-clinical). Providers were asked structured questions on various aspects of supportive care followed by open ended questions on why certain practices were performed or not. We conducted descriptive analysis of the quantitative data and thematic analysis of the qualitative data. We analyzed data and found inconsistent and suboptimal practices with regards to supportive care. Some providers reported long patient wait times in their facilities as well as the inability to provide the best care due to staff shortages in their facilities. Others also reported low interest and inquiry about women's experience of pain during childbirth, which was driven by perceptions of pain during childbirth as normal, facility culture and norms, and lack of pain medicine. For the facility environment, providers reported relatively clean facilities. They, however, noted inconsistent water and electricity as well as inadequate safety. We conclude that many drivers of the lack of supportive care are caused by structural health systems issues, therefore a health system strengthening approach can be useful for improving the supportive care dimension of PCMC, and thus quality of care overall.

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