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Development and pretesting of an information, education and communication (IEC) focused antenatal care handbook in Pakistan

Saima Akhund1 and Bilal Iqbal Avan23*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Medicine, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan

2 Immpact, Division of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK

3 Human Development programme, Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:91  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-91

Published: 30 March 2011

Abstract

Background

Improvement of maternal morbidity and mortality indicators remains a major challenge for developing countries. Antenatal care is one of the key strategies in maintaining safe motherhood. The objective of this study was to develop and pretest a culturally relevant Antenatal Care Handbook (ANC handbook) utilizing the principles of information, education, and communication (IEC). We developed the ANC handbook after an extensive review of existing literature, available instruments (for keeping track of pregnancy and informing pregnant women), and seeking expert opinion. To pretest the ANC handbook, a cross-sectional approach was adopted, and information was collected from 300 expectant women, 150 women each from the community and from the health facility arm. Trained field workers conducted the pretesting from May 2004 to June 2004. Feedback on messages for pregnant mothers contained in the handbook was also assessed. At the same time, the ANC handbook was reviewed by 25 health care providers (including community health workers, physicians, nurses, and other health staff working at various kinds of health care facilities). Data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Findings

Twenty-three percent of the interviewed women were primigravida, 50% were multigravida and 27% were grandmultipara. The mean age of the women in the community sample was 25.8 SD: 4.9 years and in the hospital sample it was 25.7 SD: 5.2 years. No significant differences were observed between women interviewed at community or health facilities related to their understanding of ANC messages, and the majority of messages were well understood. Similarly, health care providers found all of the instruments useful and workable in the health system. Finally, feedback from pregnant women and health care staff regarding different components of the handbook were incorporated and later verified by them.

Conclusions

Findings of pretesting reveal that a majority of pregnant women have an understanding of the culturally relevant ANC handbook. The handbook was found to be practical by healthcare paraprofessionals and community workers for use in different tiers of the health care system in Pakistan. The ANC handbook can be applied in the health service sector of Pakistan and can be adopted with relevant cultural modifications by countries with a similar context.