Women’s social networks and birth attendant decisions: Application of the Network-Episode Model

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This paper examines the association of women's social networks with the use of skilled birth attendants in uncomplicated pregnancy and childbirth in Matlab, Bangladesh. The network-episode model was applied to determine if network structure variables (density/kinship homogeneity/strength of ties) together with network content (endorsement for or against a particular type of birth attendant) explain the type of birth attendant used by women above and beyond the variance explained by women's individual attributes. Data were collected by interviewing a representative sample of 246 women, 18-45 years of age, using survey and social network methods between October and December 2008. Logistic regression models were used to examine the associations. Results suggest that the structural properties of networks did not add to explanatory value but instead network content or the perceived advice of network members add significantly to the explanation of variation in service use. Testing aggregate network variables at the individual level extends the ability of the individual profile matrix to explain outcomes. Community health education and mobilization interventions attempting to increase demand for skilled attendants need to reflect the centrality of kinship networks to women in Bangladesh and the likelihood of women to heed the advice of their network of advisors with regard to place of birth.


Link to PubMed record for this article published by Elsevier in Social Science & Medicine. For the full text of this article:, visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.10.032.