Husbands’ involvement and women’s utilization of maternal health care in Sidama zone,Southern Ethiopia.

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Addis Abeba University


Background: Husband involvement is an important intervention for improving maternal health, and is considered as a crucial step in scaling up women’s use of prenatal care. The idea of men’s involvement in reproductive health was first emerged at Cairo’s conference in 1994. Nevertheless, to implement this idea into practice several challenges have been faced. Even today, emphasis has not been given to the concept of men involvement in maternal health in most developing countries. Until recently, there is limited evidence of husbands’ involvement and its contribution for women’s use of skilled maternity care in Ethiopia, a country with low coverage of maternal health care but with high maternal and neonatal mortality. Therefore, there is a need to generate contextual evidence for policy formulation, designing and implementing programs that remove barriers and to promote husbands’ involvement in maternal health care. Objectives: The aims of this study were to assess the magnitude and determinants of husbands’ involvement in maternal health care, and to examine its association with women’s utilization of skilled birth attendants and postnatal care services in Sidama zone, Southern Ethiopia. Methods: The study used mixed research methods. The quantitative methods employed both cross-sectional and follow-up study designs. Data were collected from sample of 1318 men and 709 antenatal women using interview questionnaires from December 2014 to January 2015 and June 01 to November 30, 2015, respectively. The data were analyzed using SPSS ver.20. A descriptive statistics: univariate and bivariate analyses, and inferential statistics: a chi-square test, and binary logistic regression analyses with the corresponding odds ratios, 95% confidence intervals (CI), and p-values were computed. The qualitative method was also employed to explore contextual evidences on barriers to husbands’ involvement in maternal health care. The data were collected using open-ended questions and analyzed thematically using ATLAS.ti software. Before data collection, ethical clearance was assured at every steps of the data collection process. Results: Husbands’ involvement during antenatal care (ANC), skilled delivery care, and postnatal care (PNC), in this study, were 19.9%, 42.7%, and 11.8%, respectively. In the multivariate analysis, offering an invitation letter [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 6.1, 95% CI: 4.0, 9.1], having <3 under five (U5) year children (aOR=3.3, 95% CI: 2.1, 5.1), and early initiation of ANC visit (aOR 3.0, 95% CI: 1.3, 7.0) were significantly associated with husbands’ involvement during ANC visits. In addition to early initiation of ANC visits and having <3 U5 year children, place of residence (aOR 4.8, 95% CI: 2.4, 9.4) and husbands’ involvement in the preceded ANCvisit (aOR 2.1, 95% CI: 1.3, 3.4) were found to be a significant predictors of husbands involvement during delivery care. Similarly, having <3 U5 year children (aOR 3.8, 95% CI: 1.5, 9.5), offering invitation letter to husbands (aOR 3.3, 95% CI: 1.3, 8.0), husbands’ involvement in the preceded ANC visit and couples’ communication were also found to be a significant predictors of husbands’ involvement during PNC services. Respondents in the qualitative study further reported the existed social norms, men’s lack of awareness about when and how to involve, health staffs’ and women’s attitudes towards men’s involvement, and absence of guidelines were the main reasons for un-involvement of husbands in their wives’ maternal health care. In the multivariate analysis of the cohort study, women whose husbands involved at least for one ANC visit were 6.27 times and 7.45 times more likely to receive skilled birth attendants and PNC services, respectively, compared to women attended ANC alone, [aOR: 6.27; 95% CI: 4.2, 9.3; and aOR 7.45; 95% CI: 4.18, 13.3]. Conclusions and recommendations: The proportion of husbands’ involvement in maternal health care in the study areas was lower than the proportion reported from other African countries. Offering an invitation letter to husbands, number of U5 year children alive during the recent pregnancy, husbands’ involvement in the preceding ANC, couple’s communications, initiation of ANC visit and place of residence were found to be significant predictors of husbands’ involvement in maternity care. The observed associations between husbands’ involvement during ANC visit and women’s utilization of skilled birth attendants during birth and PNC services were strong and significant. This implies that woman’s utilization of skilled birth attendants’ and PNC services can be improved by involving their husbands in at least one ANC visit. Therefore, to bring a behavioral change and communication at community and facility levels, a contextual based awareness creation programs that focused on husbands’ involvement during maternal health care need to be launched; secondly, a national guideline on husbands’ involvement in maternity care, at each level of health facilities, need to be prepared and executed.



Maternal health care ,Husbands’ involvement ,women’s utilization