Open Access Open Badges Research article

Head of household education level as a factor influencing whether delivery takes place in the presence of a skilled birth attendant in Busia, Uganda: a cross-sectional household study

Frédérique Vallières1*, Alexandria Hansen1, Eilish McAuliffe1, Emma Louise Cassidy1, Paul Owora2, Sam Kappler3 and Evelyn Gathuru3

  • * Corresponding author: Frédérique Vallières

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin, 7-9 Leinster Street South, Dublin 2, Ireland

2 World Vision Uganda, World Vision Uganda, Kisozi Complex, Kampala, Uganda

3 World Vision Ireland, The Mews, Rathmines Park, Dublin 6, Ireland

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:48  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-48

Published: 21 February 2013



Assistance during delivery by a skilled attendant is recommended as a means to reduce child and maternal mortality. Globally, higher levels of maternal education have been associated with better health behaviours at delivery. However, given that heads of households tend to be the decision makers regarding accessing healthcare, some educated mothers may find themselves prevented from accessing healthcare at the point of delivery.


We examined the association between head of household education level and health seeking behaviours at delivery across a sample of 392 households. Chi-squared analysis and odds ratios were calculated to measure the strength of the relationship between no, some primary, or some secondary or higher education attained by the head of household and the presence or absence of a skilled birth attendant at that child’s birth, and whether the birth took place at a health facility.


Heads of household (n = 392) were predominantly male (93.4% [(90.9%, 95.8%), a = 0.05]). We found a significant difference in skilled birth attendance between heads of households with some primary education and heads of household with some secondary education or higher (χ2 (1) = 6.231, p <0.05) whereby those with secondary or higher education were significantly more likely to seek a skilled birth attendant (OR = 1.5,[1.1,2.1]). The difference in health centre delivery between heads of household with a primary education and heads of household with a secondary or higher education was also significant (χ2 (1) = 7.519, p <0.05). Those with secondary or higher education were significantly more likely to deliver in a health facility (OR = 1.6,[1.2,2.1]).


The results of our analysis, which identified the vast majority of heads of households as men, suggests that education, or rather limited or a lack of education for the head of household, may be a barrier to women’s use of health care in Uganda and therefore reinforces the need to increase educational access among male heads of households. Improving the rates of health centre deliveries and utilization of services provided by skilled health workers might lie, in part, in increasing overall education levels of heads of households, specifically the education of male heads of households.

Skilled birth attendant; Health-centre delivery; Head of household; Education