Pregnant women's beliefs, expectations and experiences of antenatal ultrasound in Northern Tanzania.

Abstract

This qualitative study explored pregnant women's beliefs, expectations and experiences of the recently introduced antenatal ultrasound service in BomaNg'ombe hospital, Tanzania. Thematic analysis of 25 semi-structured interviews and 41 questionnaires was employed. The majority of women desired ultrasonography despite many not understanding the procedure or purpose. Patient's expectations included discovering fetal position, fetal sex and pregnancy problems. However, women frequently over-estimated the capacity of ultrasound, and had significant fears of harm. One sixth of questionnaire respondents said they did not want ultrasonography. Nonetheless since the service was introduced no woman has declined, and numerous interviewees believed scans were obligatory. Despite fears, some women reported enjoyment of ultrasound. Interviewees believed ultrasound would increase antenatal care (ANC) attendance. An informed consent policy and an education campaign are needed to reduce fears and maximise uptake and health gains. The effects of ultrasound availability on timely ANC uptake, including amongst women not currently accessing ANC, should be further researched.

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