Severe maternal morbidity among immigrant women in the Netherlands: patients' perspectives
Reproductive Health Matters
This 2006 study investigated ethnicity-related factors contributing to sub-standard maternity care and the effects on severe maternal morbidity among immigrant women in the Netherlands. In-depth interviews were carried out with 40 immigrant and 10 native Dutch women. The immigrant women reported that health care providers often paid insufficient attention to their pregnancy-related complaints, especially in cases of pre-eclampsia. They also reported delays in receiving information about
... ation about diagnosis and treatment. Obstetricians who reviewed 20 of these cases judged sub-standard care to have played a role in the development of complications in 16 of them. The women themselves had problems identifying medically significant complications, presenting their complaints to health care providers effectively, and taking an active role as patients. Even highly educated migrant women showed low health literacy skills in their interaction with doctors. Patients' perspectives are valuable as one of the tools to evaluate the quality of maternity care. Communication by maternal health professionals can be improved through more sensitivity to social factors that affect immigrant women's health problems. Women with limited health literacy should be empowered through education about danger signs in pregnancy and information about preferences and policies in obstetrics in the Netherlands. They should also be invited to participate in medical decision-making.