Determinants of maternal healthcare utilization among married adolescents: Evidence from 13 Sub-Saharan African countries

Abstract

Objectives

Child and adolescent marriage are widely prevalent in some developing countries, and yet evidence on the maternal healthcare utilization of married adolescents is sparse. This study sought to identify the determinants of maternal healthcare utilization among married adolescents in 13 countries with the highest adolescent marriage rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Study design

This is a multicountry cross-sectional analysis.

Methods

Demographic and Health Survey data on 4288 married adolescents were used. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to identify the individual- and household-level predictors of the utilization of antenatal care, safe delivery and postnatal care.

Results

Wealth and access to media were positively associated with the utilization of all types of maternal healthcare services. Female education and partner education were positively associated with antenatal care. Predictors of safe delivery included urban residence (odds ratio [OR] = 1.87; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.15–3.03), female education (OR = 1.37; 95% CI = 1.16–1.60) and number of living children (OR = 1.25; 95% CI = 1.01,1.54), whereas positive correlates of postnatal care were urban residence (OR = 1.35; 95% CI = 1.00–1.82), partner education (OR = 1.32; 95% CI = 1.12–1.56) and employment (OR = 1.43; 95% CI = 1.07,1.89). Full antenatal care and safe delivery utilization were associated with increased postnatal care utilization. Second or third birth order and associated birth intervals were strong barriers to maternal healthcare utilization. Although autonomy in decision-making over financial spending and relationships were positively associated with full antenatal care (OR = 1.09; 95% CI = 1.03–1.14), the results suggest that autonomy over personal healthcare decisions had an opposite relationship (OR = 0.76; 95% CI = 0.58–1.01).

Conclusions

Living conditions and autonomy in decision-making over resources and relationships are facilitators of maternal healthcare utilization among married adolescents. Determinants observed in this multicountry study can help shape maternal healthcare interventions in context with high child and teenage marriage rates.

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