, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 25-34

The Influence of Site of Care on the Content of Prenatal Care for Low-Income Women

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Abstract

Objective: To assess whether site of prenatal care influences the content of prenatal care for low-income women. Design: Bivariate and logistic analyses of prenatal care content for low-income women provided at five different types of care sites (private offices, HMOs, publicly funded clinics, hospital clinics, and other sites of care), controlling for sociodemographic, behavioral, and maternal health characteristics. Participants: A sample of 3405 low-income women selected from a nationally representative sample of 9953 women surveyed by the National Maternal and Infant Health Survey, who had singleton live births in 1988, had some prenatal care (PNC), Medicaid participation, or a family income less than $12,000/year. Outcome Measures: Maternal report of seven initial PNC procedures (individually and combined), six areas of PNC advice (individually and combined), and participation in the Women Infant Children (WIC) nutrition program. Results: The content of PNC provided for low-income women does not meet the recommendations of the U.S. Public Health Service, and varies by site of delivery. Low-income women in publicly funded clinics (health departments and community health centers) report receiving more total initial PNC procedures and total PNC advice and have greater participation in the WIC program than similar women receiving PNC in private offices. Conclusions: Publicly funded sites of care appear to provide more comprehensive prenatal care services than private office settings. Health care systems reforms which assume equality of care across all sites, or which limit services to restricted sites, may foster unequal access to comprehensive PNC.