Caring for pregnant women with rheumatic heart disease: A qualitative study of health service provider perspectives
journal contributionposted on 02.03.2022, 02:55 by Geraldine VaughanGeraldine Vaughan, Angela Dawson, Michael Peek, Jonathan Carapetis, Vicki Wade, Elizabeth Sullivan
Background: Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) persists in low-middle-income countries and in high-income countries where there are health inequities. RHD in pregnancy (RHD-P) is associated with poorer maternal and perinatal outcomes. Our study examines models of care for women with RHD-P from the perspectives of health care providers. Methods: A descriptive qualitative study exploring Australian health professionals' perspectives of care pathways for women with RHD-P. Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with nineteen participants from maternal health and other clinical and non-clinical domains related to RHD-P. Results: A constellation of factors challenged the provision of integrated women-centred care, related to health systems, workforces and culture. Themes that impacted on the provision of quality woman-centred care included conduits of care - helping to break down silos of information, processes and access; 'layers on layers' - reflecting the complexity of care issues; and shared understandings - factors that contributed to improved understandings of disease and informed decision-making. Conclusions: Pregnancy for women with RHD provides an opportunity to strengthen health system responses, improve care pathways and address whole-of-life health. To respond effectively, structural and cultural changes are required including enhanced investment in education and capacity building - particularly in maternal health - to support a better informed and skilled workforce. Aboriginal Mothers and Babies programs provide useful exemplars to guide respectful effective models of care for women with RHD, with relevance for non-Indigenous women in high-risk RHD communities. For key goals to be met in the context of RHD, maternal health must be better integrated into RHD strategies and RHD better addressed in maternal health.