Understanding the psychosocial and environmental factors and barriers affecting utilization of maternal healthcare services in Kalomo, Zambia: a qualitative study

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This qualitative study aimed to identify psychosocial and environmental factors contributing to low utilization of maternal healthcare services in Kalomo, Zambia. Twelve focus group discussions (n = 141) and 35 in-depth interviews were conducted in six health centre catchment areas. Focus group discussions comprised women of reproductive age (15–45 years), who gave birth within the last year; in-depth interviews comprised traditional leaders, mothers, fathers, community health workers and nurse-midwives. Perspectives on maternal health complications, health-seeking behaviour and barriers to utilization of maternal healthcare were explored. Most women showed insight into maternal health complications. Nevertheless, they started antenatal care visits late and did not complete the recommended schedule. Moreover, most women gave birth at home and did not use postnatal care. The main reasons for the low utilization were the low perceived quality of maternal healthcare services in clinics (negative attitude), negative opinion of important referents (subjective norms), physical and economic barriers such as long distances, high transport and indirect costs including money for baby clothes and other requirements. To improve, our findings suggest need for an integrated intervention to mitigate these barriers. Our findings also suggest need for further research to measure the elicited beliefs and determine their relevance and changeability.

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