Minoritised ethnic women’s experiences of inequities and discrimination in maternity services in North-West England: A mixed-methods study

Thomson, Gillian orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3392-8182, Cook, Julie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6391-5430, Crossland, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1063-8123, Balaam, Marie-Clare orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4511-7352, Byrom, Anna, Jassat, Raeesa and Gerrard, Sabina orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2984-8748 (2022) Minoritised ethnic women’s experiences of inequities and discrimination in maternity services in North-West England: A mixed-methods study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth .

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-022-05279-6


Background: Minoritised ethnic perinatal women can experience judgemental and stigmatising care due to systemic racism. Discriminatory care contributes to increased risks of poor maternal and infant outcomes, including higher rates of mental ill-health. This study aimed to explore minoritised ethnic women’s experiences of maternity services, including maternity care and mental health support, within a North-West England locality. Here we use an equity lens to report the findings that describe if and how women’s personal, cultural, and spiritual needs were met, their experiences of discriminatory and prejudicial care, and to identify recommendations for service provision.
Methods: A mixed-methods study was undertaken comprising an online survey, interviews, and community consultations. Questions explored access to and experiences of antenatal care and education; information, communication, and choice; experiences of (dis)respect and judgement; mental health needs and support; cultural/religious needs and support; and overall experiences of maternity care. Eligibility criteria were: women, 18+ years, from self-reported minoritised ethnic backgrounds, who had given birth in the previous 2 years and received maternity care in the locality. Surveys were available in seven languages and distributed via social media, mother-baby groups, and community locations. English-speaking survey participants were invited to take part in a follow-up interview. Community leaders/staff were approached to collect data on behalf of the study team. Quantitative data were analysed descriptively (n, %) and merged with qualitative data into descriptive themes.
Results: Overall, 104 women provided data; most self-identified as Asian (65.0%) or Black (10.7%) and were aged between 30-34 (32.0%) or 25-29 years (23.3%). Four descriptive themes are reported: ‘accessing care’ details variations and barriers in accessing maternity care; ‘communication needs, and resources’ describes views on adaptions and resources for specific communication needs; ‘meeting religious and cultural needs’ outlines how various religious and cultural needs were met by maternity providers; ‘discriminatory or stigmatising care’ reports on experiences of pejorative and inequitable care.
Conclusions: An equity lens helped identify areas of discriminatory and inequitable care. Key recommendations include cultural safety training for staff; service-user engagement and co-production of research and resources, and appropriate facilities and recording systems to facilitate individualised, needs-based maternity care.

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