Women's experiences and satisfaction with maternal referral service in Northern Ghana: A qualitative inquiry

Edward Kwabena AMEYAW*, Roberta Mensima AMOAH, Carolyne NJUE, Nguyen Toan TRAN, Angela DAWSON

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)



To gain insights and improve existing referral structures with maternity care in Northern region of Ghana, this study explored the referral experiences and satisfaction of women.

Research design

Twenty women referred to the Tamale Teaching Hospital for maternal health conditions were interviewed along with three husdands of these women between January and April 2020. An interview guide was used in individual face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The transcripts were inductively coded using content analysis. The study was guided by the three delays model and the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality framework.


The study revealed seven key themes. These are women's involvement in referral decision; available health workers and care at the first facility; inadequate transportation; communication between facilities; quality of care at the receiving hospital; worth the time and money; and women's companions during referral. While several women acknowledged and appreciated the care and emotional support they received in the hospitals they first presented to, some women reported poor attitudes of healthcare providers. Most women acknowledged that there was no communication between the facilities for the referral. A woman's socioeconomic status appeared to determine the respect and support she received from healthcare providers.

Key conclusions

To ensure a responsive and efficient referral service, the central government of Ghana should commit to ensuring that each district hospital has at least one ambulance for effective emergency transportation. Career progression opportunities need to be explored for health workers in northern Ghana to attract and retain more professionals. To prevent abuse and ensure empathetic and supportive care, testimonial videos may help health providers to assess the services they provide to women. During referral, inter-facility communication can be strengthened through effective supervision and dedicated mobile phones for communication between health facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103065
Number of pages9
Early online date9 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Experience
  • Ghana
  • Maternity care
  • Referral
  • Satisfaction


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