Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 719–723 | Cite as

Migrant Women’s Perceptions of Healthcare During Pregnancy and Early Motherhood: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

  • Lígia Moreira AlmeidaEmail author
  • Catarina Casanova
  • José Caldas
  • Diogo Ayres-de-Campos
  • Sónia Dias
Original Paper


Recent guidelines from the World Health Organization emphasize the need to monitor the social determinants of health, with particular focus on the most vulnerable groups. With this in mind, we evaluated the access, use and perceived quality of care received by migrant women during pregnancy and early motherhood, in a large urban area in northern Portugal. We performed semi-structured interviews in 25 recent mothers, contacted through welfare institutions, who had immigrated from Eastern European countries, Brazil, or Portuguese-speaking African countries. Six native-Portuguese women of equal economic status were also interviewed for comparison. Misinformation about legal rights and inadequate clarification during medical appointments frequently interacted with social determinants, such as low social-economic status, unemployment, and poor living conditions, to result in lower perceived quality of healthcare. Special attention needs to be given to the most vulnerable populations in order to improve healthcare. Challenges reside not only in assuring access, but also in promoting equity in the quality of care.


Social determinants of health Maternal healthcare Migration 



This study was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)—Portugal, under the research project “Health and Citizenship: Gaps and needs in intercultural health care to immigrant mothers”. The authors would like to thank the study participants and the welfare institutions that collaborated with this research.

Ethical Standard

The study was approved by the Research Ethics Board of the School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, at the University of Porto. Approval for the conduction of the study was also obtained from the governing boards and Ethics Committees of all involved welfare institutions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lígia Moreira Almeida
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Catarina Casanova
    • 4
  • José Caldas
    • 2
    • 3
  • Diogo Ayres-de-Campos
    • 5
  • Sónia Dias
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of Public Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Porto (ISPUP/FMUP)PortoPortugal
  2. 2.Centre for Research and Intervention in Education, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (CIIE/FPCEUP)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Iberoamerican Observatory of Health and Citizenship (IOHC)PortoPortugal
  4. 4.Institute of Social SciencesUniversity of Minho (ICS-UM)BragaPortugal
  5. 5.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyMedical School-University of Porto (FMUP) S. Joao HospitalPortoPortugal
  6. 6.CMDT, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical (IHMT-UNL)LisbonPortugal

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