SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

This study explores the role of access versus traditional beliefs in the decision to seek obstetric care from health professionals. Eighteen purposively sampled homogenous groups in Kassena-Nankana District of northern Ghana participated in focus-group discussions about traditional beliefs, barriers to the use of health professionals, and ways to improve obstetric care. All the groups were knowledgeable about the life-threatening signs and symptoms of complications of pregnancy and labor. Decisions about place of delivery generally were made after the onset of labor. Accessibility factors (cost, distance, transport, availability of health facilities, and nurses' attitudes) were major barriers, whereas traditional beliefs were reported as less significant. Informants made pertinent recommendations on how to improve obstetric services in the district. These findings demonstrate that even in this district, where African traditional religion is practiced by a third of the population, compared with a national average of 4 percent, lack of access was perceived as the main barrier to seeking professional obstetric care.