Barriers to prenatal care: Factors associated with late initiation of care in a middle-class midwestern community

Rosebud O. Roberts, Barbara P. Yawn, Susan L. Wickes, Charles S. Field, Melissa Garretson, Steven J. Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Barriers to prenatal care have been extensively investigated in low-income and inner-city communities. Less attention has been directed to the study of prenatal care among middle- and upper-class pregnant women. This study describes perceived barriers and factors associated with late initiation of prenatal care in a predominantly middle- to upper-class midwestern community. METHODS. Consenting women in Olmsted County, Minnesota, who were attending a clinic for their first obstetric visit completed a self- administered questionnaire that queried the presence of factors making it difficult to receive prenatal care, perception about the importance of prenatal care, expectations at the first prenatal care visit, and sociodemographic factors. RESULTS. Of the 813 women aged 14 to 47 years, 692 (86%) had their first prenatal visit within the first trimester of pregnancy. Only 98 (12%) women reported external barriers to receiving prenatal care. These factors included difficulty in getting an appointment (46.9%), problems finding child care (26.5%), and lack of transportation (14.3%). In multivariable logistic regression analyses, late initiation of care was associated with patient perception of prenatal care as being less than very important (odds ratio [OR] = 4.1, 95% confidence interval tel], 1.7 - 9.7); external barriers to prenatal care (OR = 2.9, 95% CI, 1.6 - 5.4); annual income <$17,000 (OR = 2.9, 95% CI, 1.5 - 5.7); and an unintended pregnancy (OR = 2.1, 95% CI, 1.3 - 3.5). Multiparous Women and women older than 35 years were more likely to perceive prenatal care as less than very important (OR 3.9, 95% CI, 2.5 - 14.6 and OR = 2.9, 95% CI, 1.2 - 6.8, respectively). CONCLUSIONS. These findings suggest that perceptions about the importance of prenatal Care may play a greater role in the initiation of care among this group of women than is recognized. Women with more experience with pregnancy appear to place slightly less importance on prenatal care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 1998


  • Barriers
  • Perception
  • Prenatal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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