Objectives: This study aimed to assess the accuracy of pregnant women’s perceptions of maternity facility quality and the association between perception accuracy and the quality of facility chosen for delivery.
Design: A cohort study.
Setting: Nairobi, Kenya.
Participants: 180 women, surveyed during pregnancy and 2 to 4 weeks after delivery.
Primary outcome measures: Women were surveyed during pregnancy regarding their perceptions of the quality of all facilities they were considering during delivery and then, after delivery, about their ultimate facility choice. Perceptions of quality were based on perceived ability to handle emergencies and complications. Delivery facilities were assigned a quality index score based on a direct assessment of performance of emergency ‘signal functions’, skilled provider availability, medical equipment and drug stocks. ‘Accurate perceptions’ was a binary variable equal to one if a woman’s ranking of facilities based on her quality perception equalled the index ranking. Ordinary least squares and logistic regressions were used to analyse associations between accurate perceptions and quality of the facility chosen for delivery.
Results: Assessed technical quality was modest, with an average index score of 0.65. 44% of women had accurate perceptions of quality ranking. Accurate perceptions were associated with a 0.069 higher delivery facility quality score (p=0.039; 95%CI: 0.004 to 0.135) and with a 14.5% point higher probability of delivering in a facility in the top quartile of the quality index (p=0.015; 95%CI: 0.029 to 0.260).
Conclusions: Patient misperceptions of technical quality were associated with use of lower quality facilities. Larger studies could determine whether improving patient information about relative facility quality can encourage use of higher quality care.