Transforming maternity care: obstetric partnerships as a policy instrument for integration

S. R. Lips*, J. M. Molenaar, T. J. Schuitmaker-Warnaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Increasing continuity in Dutch maternity care is considered pivotal to improve safety and client-centeredness. Closer collaboration between the historically relatively autonomous professionals and organizations in maternity care is deemed conditional to reach this goal, both by maternity care professionals and policy makers. Governmental policy therefore strives for organizational and financial integration. One of the policy measures has been to stimulate interprofessional and interorganizational collaboration through local obstetric partnerships. This study aimed to gain insight into whether this policy measure supported professionals in reaching the policy aim of increasing integration in the maternity care system. We therefore conducted 73 semistructured interviews with maternity care professionals in the region Northwest Netherlands, from 2014 to 2016. Respondents expressed much willingness to intensify interprofessional and interorganizational collaboration and experienced obstetric partnerships as contributing to this. As such, stimulating integration through obstetric partnerships can be considered a suitable policy measure. However, collaborating within the partnerships simultaneously highlighted deep-rooted dividing structures (organizational, educational, legal, financial) in the maternity care system, especially at the systemic level. These were experienced to hinder collaboration, but difficult for the professionals to influence, as they lacked knowledge, skills, resources and mandate. A lack of clear and timely guidance and support from policy, counterbalancing these barriers, limited partnerships' potential to unify professionals and integrate their services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1253
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number11
Early online date25 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


This work was funded by ZonMW , The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (grant numbers 154031996 and 209010002 ).

FundersFunder number
Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development154031996, 209010002


    • Integrated care
    • Intersectoral collaboration
    • Maternity Care
    • Obstetrics
    • Policy
    • Qualitative research


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