Barriers to hospital deliveries among ethnicminority women with religious beliefs in China: A descriptive study using interviews and survey data

Peige Song, Chuyun Kang, Evropi Theodoratou, Neneh Rowa-Dewar, Xuebei Liu, Lin An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: China has made great progress in improving hospital delivery-the coverage of hospital delivery has increased to above 95% in most regions-some regions lag behind owing to geographic and economic inequality, particularly the poor ethnic minority areas of the Sichuan Province. This study explores factors which may influence hospital delivery from multiple perspectives, with implications for practice and policy. Methods: A framework analysis approach was used to identify and categorize the main barriers and levers to hospital delivery. Our analysis draws on basic information from the sampled counties (Butuo and Daofu). Results: The hospital delivery rate was below 50% in the two sampled areas. In both areas, the “New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme” and “Rural hospital delivery subsidy” were introduced, but only Butuo county had a transportation subsidy policy. Socioeconomically disadvantaged women in both counties who delivered their babies in hospitals could also apply for financial assistance. A lack of transport was among the main reasons for low hospital delivery rates in these two counties. Furthermore, while the hospital delivery costs could be mostly covered by “New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme” or “Rural Hospital Delivery Subsidy”, reimbursement was not guaranteed. People in Daofu county might be affected by their Buddhism religion for hospital delivery. Women in Butuo following the Animism religion would refuse delivery in hospitals because of language barriers. Traditional lay beliefs were the main factor that influenced hospital delivery; their understandings of reproductive health varied, and many believed that childbirth should not be watched by strangers and that a home delivery was safe. Conclusions: This study has highlighted a number of barriers and levers to hospital delivery in rural poor ethnic minority areas which could inform and improve the access and rate of hospital delivery rate; thereby reducing health inequalities in maternal and child health in China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number815
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2016


  • Barriers
  • China
  • Hospital delivery
  • Poor ethnic minority

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