Are there differences in information given to private and public prenatal patients?

Margaret Comerford Freda, Karla Damus, Irwin R. Merkatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: In 1989 the United States Public Health Service Expert Panel on the Content of Prenatal Care reported that health education should become a more integral part of prenatal care. Key questions about providing this education have not been examined. Our study compared the type of information provided to women who sought prenatal care in a public clinic and to those who were seen in a private practice and the degree to which the patients were satisfied with the information they received. Study Design: One hundred fifty-nine pregnant women (80 seen in a public clinic, 79 seen in a private practice) completed two questionnaires about 38 topics commonly cited as important during pregnancy. At the first prenatal visit, the women reported their level of interest in each of the topics. At 36 to 40 weeks' gestation the women completed a second questionnaire to assess whether information was provided for each topic and whether they had learned as much as desired. Results: Overall, the women in the public sector received more information than did the women who were cared for privately. This was statistically significant at the p < 0.05 level for 25 of the 38 topics. Satisfaction with information learned was highly correlated with information received during prenatal care, but, surprisingly, it was not shown to be associated with the patient's interest level at the first visit. Fewer than 50% of private patients reported having received information about such important topics as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, preterm birth prevention, family planning, and family violence. Conclusions: The one-on-one approach to health education in pregnancy usually used in the private setting may not facilitate addressing many topics believed to be important components of contemporary prenatal care. Providers of private prenatal care should initiate discussion of prenatal health education topics rather than relying on patient interest in requesting information. Just as public prenatal care programs have devoted significant resources to more comprehensive prenatal education, the providers in the private sector must assure that pregnant women receive the same comprehensive information. In so doing, these providers can help promote an optimal outcome for their patients, their patients' unborn children, and the family unit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Prenatal care
  • health education
  • patient satisfaction
  • pregnancy
  • prenatal education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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