JOURNAL ARTICLE

Comprehensive picture of rural women's needs in maternity care in Tasmania, Australia

Ha Hoang, Quynh Le
Australian Journal of Rural Health 2013, 21 (4): 197-202
24033519

OBJECTIVE: This study investigates (i) rural women's needs in maternity care in Tasmania; (ii) the current rural maternity services in Tasmania; and (iii) the gap between women's needs and the services provided.

DESIGN: Mixed methods study was adopted. A questionnaire explored women's views on rural maternity services from antenatal to postnatal care and also invited comments from the participants. Interviews were conducted to provide comprehensive insights into their needs in maternity care.

SETTING: Six rural communities in Tasmania, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: Women who have had childbirth experiences in rural areas in Tasmania.

RESULTS: Two hundred ten women completed the questionnaire with a response rate of 35%. There were over 150 written comments from the survey. Twenty-two follow-up interviews were conducted. This paper reports the written comments from the survey and interviews. Five main themes emerged from the data, namely (i) access needs, (ii) safety needs, (iii) needs for rural birthing services, (iv) support needs and (v) needs for quality services.

CONCLUSION: This study has revealed a comprehensive picture of rural women's needs in maternity care throughout their pregnancy to the early postnatal period. There is a major lack of maternity services in rural areas of Tasmania. The lack of rural maternity services shifts cost and risk from the health care system to rural women and their families. Women want to have greater access to maternity services in their local community and be ensured safety for themselves and their babies. Moreover, they need more support from the health care system and they desire quality services.

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