Social Inequalities in the Organization of Pregnancy Care in a Universally Funded Public Health Care System Academic Article uri icon


  • To examine the social organization of pregnancy care and the extent to which socioeconomic factors affect women's experience of care. We consider these data in the global discussion on taking action to reduce health inequalities. This study draws on cross-sectional data from a large population-based survey of Australian women 6 months after giving birth. Only those women reporting to attend publically-funded models of antenatal care (i.e., public clinic, midwife clinic, shared care, primary medical care, primary midwife care) were included in analyses. Results showed a social patterning in the organization and experience of care with clear links between model of care attended in pregnancy and a number of individual-level indicators of social disadvantage. Our findings show model of care is a salient feature in how women view their care. How women from socially disadvantaged backgrounds navigate available care options are important considerations. Pregnancy care is recognized as an opportunity to intervene to give children 'the best start in life.' Our data show the current system of universally accessible pregnancy care in Australia is failing to support the most vulnerable women and families. This information can inform actions to reduce social disparities during this critical period.

publication date

  • February 2012