Journal Article

Pathways to service access for pre-eclampsia and eclampsia in rural Bangladesh: Exploring women’s care-seeking

Background
While women in low- and middle-income countries face a range of barriers to accessing care for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, there is little understanding of the pathways taken to overcome these constraints and reach the services they need. This study explores the perspectives of women and communities on the influences that impact care-seeking decisions and pathways to health services.

Methods
To understand individual perspectives, we conducted 22 in-depth interviews (IDIs) with pre-eclampsia and eclampsia survivors (PE/E) in a tertiary hospital, where they received care after initiating PE/E services in different parts of the country. In four districts, we conducted one male and one female focus group discussion (FGD) to unearth care-seeking pathways and explore normative perspectives and the range of internal and external influences. Careful thematic analysis using Atlas-ti was applied.

Results
Prevailing views of women and communities across settings in Bangladesh indicate varied pathways to care throughout their pregnancy, during childbirth, and in the postnatal period influenced by internal and external factors at the individual, familial, social, and health systems levels. Internal influences draw on women’s own awareness of hypertension complications and options, and their ability to decide to seek care. External factors include social influences like family and community norms, culturally-accepted alternatives, and community perceptions of the health system’s capacity to provide quality care. The interaction of these factors often delay care seeking and can lead to complex pathways to care.

Conclusion
Women’s individual pathways to care were diverse, despite the homogenous community perceptions of the influences on women’s care-seeking behaviors. This finding supports the need for improving quality of care in primary healthcare facilities and strengthening gender equity and community-based promotion activities through targeted policy and programming.