The influence of husbands' approval on women's use of prenatal care: Results from Yirgalem and Jimma towns, south west Ethiopia

  • BT Biratu
  • DP Lindstrom Department of Sociology and Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 02912, U.S.A


Background: The utilization of formal prenatal care services in Ethiopia could generally be described as low by international standards. While this is attributed to the lack of access to formal maternal health-care service, which is an important barrier to prenatal care, other important socio-cultural barriers to service utilization also exist.
Objective: The aim of this study is to identify the relative influence of the attitudes and background characteristics of husbands and wives on prenatal care utilization, and in particular to identify the role of a husband's approval on prenatal care.
Methods: Data were collected from 1,750 women in a community-based survey of maternal health conducted in Yirgalem town and its surrounding rural areas, as well as in Jimma Town in 1997. Multivariate regression models were used to identify: (1) the relationship between the determinants of whether a woman wanted a pregnancy and whether a husband approves of prenatal care, and (2) the influence of a husband's approval on care utilization net of pregnancy wantedness and other factors.
Results: It was found out that a husband's approval has a greater effect on prenatal care utilization than whether a wife wanted the pregnancy or a wife's level of education. It was also found that the impact of a husband's approval on prenatal care is greatest among women under the age of 20.
Conclusion: The findings of this study underscore the importance of targeting men when designing interventions that are intended to raise the awareness and use of prenatal health-care services.

The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development Vol. 20 (2) 2006: 84-92

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eISSN: 1021-6790