Perceptions of Motivators and Barriers to Public Prenatal Care Among First-Time and Follow-Up Adolescent Patients and Their Providers

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ObjectivesTo compare perceptions of the motivators and barriers to obtaining public prenatal care from the perspectives of pregnant adolescents coming for first-time and follow-up appointments, as well as among those of their prenatal care providers.MethodThe patient sample consisted of 250 consecutive, adolescent, public prenatal patients coming to one of the 5 prenatal clinics in one county in Arkansas. Patient responses were analyzed by appointment status (first-time vs. follow-up visitors). Sixteen providers at the same public prenatal clinics were also interviewed using the same survey instrument.ResultsWe observed striking differences between patients and providers with respect to their perceptions of both the motivators and barriers to prenatal care. Adolescents reported “concern over the health of their baby” as a primary motivation, while providers identified adolescents' “concern over their own health” as the most important reason. With regard to barriers, adolescents were more likely to identify system-related barriers (e.g., lack of finances and transportation, and waiting time for appointments), while providers were more likely to identify personal barriers (e.g., feeling depressed, fear of procedures, and needing time to deal with problems at home). Patients and providers agreed, however, that fear of procedures and not wanting to be pregnant were important barriers to care.ConclusionsThe differences in perceptions between adolescents and their prenatal care providers suggest that poor patient–provider communication may represent one of the single most important nonfinancial barriers to care. Possible explanations for inadequate patient–provider communication as well as solutions to improve their clinic interactions are discussed.

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