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Open Access Research article

Does the organizational model of the maternity health clinic have an influence on women’s and their partners’ experiences? A service evaluation survey in Southwest Finland

Miia Tuominen1*, Anne Kaljonen2, Pia Ahonen3 and Päivi Rautava4

Author Affiliations

1 Public Health Department, University of Turku, FI-20014 Turun yliopisto, Turku, Finland

2 Turku Institute for Child and Youth Research, University of Turku, FI-20014 Turun yliopisto, Turku, Finland

3 Health Care Faculty, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Ruiskatu 8, 20760, Turku, Finland

4 Turku Clinical Research Centre, Turku University Hospital, PO Box 52, 20521, Turku, Finland

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012, 12:96  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-96

Published: 14 September 2012



In high-income countries, great disparities exist in the organizational characteristics of maternity health services. In Finland, primary maternity care is provided at communal maternity health clinics (MHC). At these MHCs there are public health nurses and general practitioners providing care. The structure of services in MHCs varies largely. MHCs are maintained independently or merged with other primary health care sectors. A widely used organizational model of services is a combined maternity and child health clinic (MHC & CHC) where the same public health nurse takes care of the family from pregnancy until the child is at school age. The aim of this study was to determine how organizational model, MHC independent or combined MHC & CHC, influence on women’s and their partners’ service experiences.


A comparative, cross-sectional service evaluation survey was used. Women (N = 995) and their partners (N = 789) were recruited from the MHCs in the area of Turku University Hospital. Four months postpartum, the participants were asked to evaluate the content and amount of the MHC services via a postal questionnaire. Comparisons were made between the clients of the separate MHCs and the MHCs combined to the child health clinics.


Women who had used the combined MHC & CHCs generally evaluated services more positively than women who had used the separate MHCs. MHC’s model was related to several aspects of the service which were evaluated “good” (the content of the service) or “much” (the amount of the service). Significant differences accumulated favoring the combined MHC & CHCs’ model. Twelve aspects of the service were ranked more often as “good” or “much” by the parents who had used the combined MHC & CHC, only group activities regarding delivery were evaluated better by women who had used the separate MHCs.


Based on the women’s and partners’ experiences an organizational model of the combined MHC & CHC where the same nurse will take care of family during pregnancy and after birth of the child was preferred. This model also provides greater amount of home visits and peer support than the separate MHC.

Health services research; Primary health care; Comparative study; Pregnancy; Maternal health services; Prenatal care; Continuity of patient care; Parents