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Birth. 2003 Mar;30(1):23-30.

Satisfaction and use of prenatal care: their relationship among African-American women in a large managed care organization.

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University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago 60612, USA.



Although many more mothers of almost all ethnic groups began prenatal care in the first trimester during the last decade, a significant number of low-income and minority women still fail to obtain adequate care in the United States-a failure that may be related to their dissatisfaction with the prenatal care experience. This study sought to examine the relationship between satisfaction with care and subsequent prenatal care utilization among African-American women using prospective methods.


A sample of 125 Medicaid and 275 non-Medicaid African-American adult women seeking care through a large Midwest managed care organization were interviewed before or at 28 weeks' gestation at one of two prenatal care sites. Women were interviewed about personal characteristics, prenatal care experience, and ratings of care (satisfaction). Information about subsequent use of prenatal care was obtained through retrospective medical record review after delivery. Univariate and multivariable analyses examining the relationship between women's satisfaction and prenatal care use were conducted using a dichotomous measure of satisfaction and a continuous measure of utilization.


Women were highly satisfied with prenatal care, with an overall mean satisfaction score of 80.3. Non-Medicaid women were significantly (p < 0.05) less satisfied with their prenatal care (mean score, 79.1) than Medicaid women (mean score, 82.8), and the latter had significantly fewer visits on average than the former subsequent to the interview. Analyses showed no significant difference in subsequent utilization according to whether a woman had a high versus low level of satisfaction at the prenatal care interview.


This study challenges the assumption that improving a woman's satisfaction with care will lead to an increase in the adequacy of her prenatal care utilization. Since this study was limited to African-American women and is the first prospective study of women's satisfaction with care and prenatal care utilization, the negative findings do not yet settle this area of inquiry. Monitoring women's satisfaction with prenatal care in both managed care and fee-for-service settings and working to improve those aspects of care associated with decreased satisfaction is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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