Ethnic, socio-economic and geographic inequities in maternal health service coverage in Australia

Fox, Haylee, Topp, Stephanie M., Lindsay, Daniel, and Callander, Emily (2021) Ethnic, socio-economic and geographic inequities in maternal health service coverage in Australia. International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 36 (6). pp. 2182-2198.

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Background: Disparities in health service use exist in many sectors of Australia's health system, particularly affecting the most vulnerable people in the population, who are typically those with the greatest healthcare needs. Understanding patterns of health service coverage is critical for acknowledging the underlying, systemic drivers including racialised practices that inhibit the uptake of health services for certain population groups. This study aims to determine whether there are disparities in health service utilisation between socioeconomic, geographic and ethnic groups of mothers who experience hypertension, diabetes and mental health conditions.

Methods: This study utilised a linked administrative healthcare dataset containing data of all mothers who gave birth in Queensland, Australia, between 2012 and 2015 (n = 186,789), plus their resultant babies (n = 189,909). The study compared health service utilisation for mothers with maternal health conditions between population groups.

Results: The results of this study showed a broad trend of inequitable health service utilisation, with mothers who experienced the greatest healthcare needs—First Nations, rural and remote and socio-economically disadvantaged mothers—being less likely to access health services and in some cases when care was accessed, fewer services being utilised during the perinatal period.

Conclusion: Access to health care during the perinatal period is a reflection of Australia's general health system strengths and weaknesses, in particular a failure of the government to translate national and state policy intent into acceptable and accessible care in rural and remote areas, for First Nations women and for mothers experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.

Item ID: 68718
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1099-1751
Keywords: Australia, inequities, maternal health service utilisation, perinatal health, social determinants
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Copyright Information: © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Additional Information:

A version of this publication was included as Chapter 4 of the following PhD thesis: Fox, Haylee (2021) Medicalised childbirth: variation in care and drivers of maternal health service provision in Queensland, Australia. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Statistical Services Branch of Queensland Health (SSBQH), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: JCU Research Training Program Stipend scholarship
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2021 01:07
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420311 Health systems @ 40%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420602 Health equity @ 30%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420210 Social epidemiology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200509 Women's and maternal health @ 40%
21 INDIGENOUS > 2103 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health > 210303 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health system performance @ 20%
20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200206 Health system performance (incl. effectiveness of programs) @ 40%
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