Aboriginal women's experiences of strengths and challenges of antenatal care in the Kimberley: A qualitative study

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Abstract

Background: High-quality, culturally safe antenatal care has an important role in improving health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We sought to describe Aboriginal women's experiences of antenatal care in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, to better understand current systems and opportunities for enhancing antenatal care. Methods: Throughout the Kimberley, 124 Aboriginal women who had accessed antenatal care in 2015–2018 were recruited. They provided qualitative data during a health assessment or standalone interview. Transcripts were descriptively coded and thematically analysed. Findings: Most women expressed that overall they had a positive antenatal care experience. Key themes were the importance of positive relationships with antenatal care providers, the valuable role of family support during the antenatal period, challenges travelling for care and limitations of the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme, communication of pregnancy related information, and the provision of services. Almost all antenatal care providers described were non-Aboriginal. A few women spoke about involvement of Aboriginal Health Workers in their antenatal care, including recommending expansion of these roles. Conclusions: The experiences shared by these Aboriginal women in the Kimberley contribute to broader evidence of a need to improve culturally safe antenatal care delivery for Aboriginal Australian women. Although excellent care was provided by a number of dedicated midwives, there were few Aboriginal antenatal staff and significant staff turnover. To improve the quality of care more local Aboriginal antenatal care providers, and additional support for the large number of women and their families required to travel, are required.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen and Birth
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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