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Open Access Research article

Women’s views and experiences of antenatal care in Iraq: a Q methodology study

Nazar P Shabila1*, Hamdia M Ahmed2 and Maryam Y Yasin3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, Hawler Medical University, Erbil, Iraq

2 Department of Midwifery, College of Nursing, Hawler Medical University, Erbil, Iraq

3 Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Erbil Technical Medical Institute, Erbil, Iraq

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-43

Published: 23 January 2014



Understanding women’s experiences and perspectives of antenatal care services is particularly critical for enhancing effectiveness of services delivery and addressing women’s needs and expectations. As part of a comprehensive assessment of the maternity care services in Iraq, this study aimed to explore the views and experiences of antenatal care in a sample of women.


This explorative study was conducted in Erbil governorate, Iraq. Data were collected using Q methodology, a technique for eliciting subjective views and identifying shared patterns among individuals. A sample of 38 women of different educational and socioeconomic statuses were invited to sort a set of 39 statements reflecting different aspects of the available antenatal care services and issues related to their last pregnancies into a distribution on a scale of nine from “disagree most” to “agree most”. By-person factor analysis was used to derive latent views through centroid factor extraction and varimax rotation of factors.


Analysis of the participants’ Q sorts resulted in identifying four distinct views and experiences of pregnancy and antenatal care services: (i) public maternity services second best: preference for, and ability to afford, private care, (ii) dissatisfaction with public maternity services: poor information sharing and lack of health promotion, (iii) satisfaction with public maternity service but information gaps perceived and (iv) public maternity services second best: preference for private care but unaffordable. The typical characterizations that were associated with each view were highlighted.


This study revealed different patterns of views and experiences of women of pregnancy and antenatal care services and recognized the particular issues related to each pattern. Different patterns and types of problems and concerns related mainly to inadequate provision of information and poor interpersonal communication, poor utilization of public services and a general preference to use private services were identified in the different groups of women.