Factors associated with intended use of a maternity waiting home in Southern Ethiopia: A community-based cross-sectional study

Tienke Vermeiden*, Floris Braat, Girmay Medhin, Asheber Gaym, Thomas van den Akker, Jelle Stekelenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Although Ethiopia is scaling up Maternity Waiting Homes (MWHs) to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality, women's use of MWHs varies markedly between facilities. To maximize MWH utilization, it is essential that policymakers are aware of supportive and inhibitory factors. This study had the objective to describe factors and perceived barriers associated with potential utilization of an MWH among recently delivered and pregnant women in Southern Ethiopia. Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted between March and November 2014 among 428 recently delivered and pregnant women in the Eastern Gurage Zone, Southern Ethiopia, where an MWH was established for high-risk pregnant women to await onset of labour. The structured questionnaire contained questions regarding possible determinants and barriers. Logistic regression with 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) was used to examine association of selected variables with potential MWH use. Results: While only thirty women (7.0%) had heard of MWHs prior to the study, 236 (55.1%), after being explained the concept, indicated that they intended to stay at such a structure in the future. The most important factors associated with intended MWH use in the bivariate analysis were a woman's education (secondary school or higher vs. no schooling: odds ratio [OR] 6.3 [95% CI 3.46 to 11.37]), her husband's education (secondary school or higher vs. no schooling: OR 5.4 [95% CI 3.21 to 9.06]) and envisioning relatively few barriers to MWH use (OR 0.32 [95% CI 0.25 to 0.39]). After adjusting for possible confounders, potential users had more frequently suffered complications in previous childbirths (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 4.0 [95% CI 1.13 to 13.99]) and envisioned fewer barriers to MWH use (aOR 0.3 [95% CI 0.23 to 0.38]). Barriers to utilization included being away from the household (aOR 18.1 [95% CI 5.62 to 58.46]) and having children in the household cared for by the community during a woman's absence (aOR 9.3 [95% CI 2.67 to 32.65]). Conclusions: Most respondents had no knowledge about MWHs. Having had complications during past births and envisioning few barriers were factors found to be positively associated with intended MWH use. Unless community awareness of preventive maternity care increases and barriers for women to stay at MWHs are overcome, these facilities will continue to be underutilized, especially among marginalized women.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethiopia
  • Health-seeking behaviour
  • Maternal health
  • Maternal mortality
  • Maternity waiting homes
  • Obstetrics


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