Barriers to and attitudes towards promoting husbands' involvement in maternal health in Katmandu, Nepal

Britta C. Mullany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Couple-friendly reproductive health services and male partner involvement in women's reproductive health have recently garnered considerable attention. Given the sensitive nature of gender roles and relations in many cultures, understanding the context of a particular setting, potential barriers, and attitudes towards a new intervention are necessary first steps in designing services that include men. In preparation for a male involvement in antenatal care intervention, this qualitative study specifically aims to: (a) understand the barriers to male involvement in maternal health and (b) explore men's, women's, and providers' attitudes towards the promotion of male involvement in antenatal care and maternal health. In-depth interviews were conducted with fourteen couples and eight maternal health care providers at a public maternity hospital in Katmandu, Nepal. Additionally, seventeen couples participated in focus group discussions. The most prominent barriers to male involvement in maternal health included low levels of knowledge, social stigma, shyness/embarrassment and job responsibilities. Though providers also foresaw some obstacles, primarily in the forms of hospital policy, manpower and space problems, providers unanimously felt the option of couples-friendly maternal health services would enhance the quality of care and understanding of health information given to pregnant women, echoing attitudes expressed by most pregnant women and their husbands. Accordingly, a major shift in hospital policy was seen as an important first step in introducing couple-friendly antenatal or delivery services. The predominantly favorable attitudes of pregnant women, husbands, and providers towards encouraging greater male involvement in maternal health in this study imply that the introduction of an option for such services would be both feasible and well accepted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2798-2809
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Antenatal care
  • Maternal health services
  • Nepal
  • Reproductive health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)


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