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Health Soc Care Community. 2003 Sep;11(5):397-404.

Accessibility, continuity and appropriateness: key elements in assessing integration of perinatal services.

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Faculté des sciences infirmières and Groupe de recherche interdisciplinaire en santé (GRIS), Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


A trend toward the reduction in the length of hospital stays has been widely observed. This increasing shift is particularly evident in perinatal care. A stay of less than 48 hours after delivery has been shown to have no negative effects on the health of either the mother or the baby as long as they receive an adequate follow-up. This implies a close integration between hospital and community health services. The present article addresses the following questions: To what extent are postnatal services accessible to mothers and neonates? Are postnatal services in the community in continuity with those of the hospital? Are the services provided by the appropriate source of care? The authors conducted a telephone survey among 1158 mothers in a large urban area in the province of Quebec, Canada. The results were compared to clinical guidelines widely recognised by professionals. The results show serious discrepancies with these guidelines. The authors found a low accessibility to services: less than half of the mothers received a home visit by a nurse. In terms of continuity of care, less than 10% of the mothers received a follow-up telephone call within the recommended time frame and only 18% benefited from a home visit within the recommended period. Finally, despite guidelines to the contrary, hospitals continue to intervene after discharge. This results in a duplication of services for 44.7% of the new-borns. On the other hand, 40.7% are not seen in the recommended period after hospital discharge at all. These results raise concerns about the integration of services between agencies. Following earlier work, the present authors have grouped explanatory factors under four dimensions: the strategic dimension, particularly leadership; the structural dimension, including the size of the network; the technological dimension, with respect to information transmission system; and the cultural dimension, which concerns the collaboration process and the development of relationships based on trust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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