Abstract for:How the health-seeking behaviour of pregnant women affect neonatal outcomes in Pakistan?

Background: Limited studies have explored how health-seeking behaviour during pregnancy through to delivery affect neonatal outcomes. We modelled health-seeking behaviour across urban and rural settings in Pakistan, where poor neonatal outcomes persist with wide disparities.

Methods: A System Dynamics model was developed and parameterised. Following validation tests, the model was used to determine neonatal mortality for pregnant women considering their decisions to access, refuse, and switch antenatal care services in four provider sectors: public, private, traditional, and charitable. Four health-seeking scenarios were tested across different pregnancy trimesters. Health-seeking behaviour in different sub-groups by geographic locations, and social network effect was modelled.

Findings: The largest reduction in neonatal mortality was achieved with antenatal care provided by skilled providers in public, private or charitable sectors, combined with the use of institutional delivery. Women’s social networks had strong influences on if, when and where to seek care. Interventions by Lady Health Workers had a minimal impact on health-seeking behaviour and neonatal outcomes after Trimester 1. Optimal benefits were achieved for urban women when antenatal care was accessed within Trimester 2, but for rural women within Trimester 1. Antenatal care access delayed to Trimester 3 had no protective impact on neonatal mortality.