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Maternity-care: measuring women’s perceptions

Kim Clark (Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia)
Shelley Beatty (Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia)
Tracy Reibel (Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia,)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




Achieving maternity-care outcomes that align with women’s needs, preferences and expectations is important but theoretically driven measures of women’s satisfaction with their entire maternity-care experience do not appear to exist. The purpose of this paper is to outline the development of an instrument to assess women’s perception of their entire maternity-care experience.


A questionnaire was developed on the basis of previous research and informed by a framework of standard service quality categories covering the spectrum of typical consumer concerns. A pilot survey with a sample of 195 women who had recent experience of birth was undertaken to establish valid and reliable scales pertaining to different stages of maternity care. Exploratory factor analysis was used to interpret scales and convergent validity was assessed using a modified version of the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire.


Nine theoretically informed, reliable and valid stand-alone scales measuring the achievement of different dimensions of women’s expectancies of public maternity care were developed. The study scales are intended for use in identifying some potential areas of focus for quality improvement in the delivery of maternity care.

Research limitations/implications

Reliable and valid tools for monitoring the extent to which services respond to women’s expectations of their entire maternity care form part of the broader toolkit required to adequately manage health-care quality. This study offers guidance on the make-up of such tools.


The scales produced from this research offer a means to assess maternity care across the full continuum of care and are brief and easy to use.



This research was supported by the Western Australian Health Department under Service Agreement C05638.


Clark, K., Beatty, S. and Reibel, T. (2016), "Maternity-care: measuring women’s perceptions", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 89-99.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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