Barriers and motivators to prenatal care among low-income women

Betty Lia-Hoagberg, Peter Rode, Catherine J. Skovholt, Charles N Oberg, Cynthia Berg, Sara Mullett, Thomas Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Substantial evidence exists which links prenatal care to improved birth outcomes. However, low-income and nonwhite women in the United States, who are at greatest risk for poor birth outcomes, continue to receive the poorest prenatal care. The purpose of this study was to identify and compare barriers and motivators to prenatal care among women who lived in low-income census tracts. The stratified sample included recently delivered white, black and American Indian women who received adequate, intermediate, and inadequate prenatal care. Interviews were conducted which focused primarily on the women's perceptions of problems in obtaining prenatal care and getting to appointments. Results indicated that women with inadequate care identified a greater number of barriers and perceived them as more severe. Psychosocial, structural, and socio-demographic factors were the major barriers, while the mother's beliefs and support from others were important motivators. The predictive power of selected barrier variables was examined by a regression analysis. These variables accounted for 50% of the variance in prenatal care use. The results affirm the complexity of prenatal care participation behavior among low-income women and the dominant influence of psychosocial factors. Comprehensive, coordinated and multidisciplinary outreach and services which address psychosocial and structural barriers are needed to improve prenatal care for low-income women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-494
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990


  • barriers
  • low income women
  • prenatal care
  • psychosocial factors


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