Social capital and maternal and child health services uptake in low- and middle-income countries: mixed methods systematic review
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© The Author(s). 2021 Published in BMC Health Services Research. This article is published under the Open Access publishing model and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Please refer to the licence to obtain terms for any further reuse or distribution of this work.
Background: Social capital has become an important concept in the field of public health, and is associated with improved health services uptake. This study aimed to systematically review the available literature on the role of social capital on the utilization of maternal and child health services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Methods: Mixed-methods research review and synthesis using three databases PubMed, Scopus, and Science Direct for peer-reviewed literature and Google Scholar and Google search engines for gray literature were performed. Both quantitative and qualitative studies conducted in LMICs, published in English and in grey literature were considered. Prior to inclusion in the review methodological quality was assessed using a standardized critical appraisal instrument.
Results: A total of 1,545 studies were identified, of which 13 records were included after exclusions of studies due to duplicates, reading titles, abstracts, and full-text reviews. Of these eligible studies, six studies were included for quantitative synthesis, and seven were included for qualitative synthesis. Of the six quantitative studies, five of them addressed the association between social capital and health facility delivery. Women who lived in communities with higher membership in groups that helps to form intergroup bridging ties had higher odds of using antenatal care services. Synthesized qualitative findings revealed that women received some form of emotional, informational, and instrumental support from their network members. Receiving health information from trusted people and socio-cultural factors influenced the use of maternal and child health services.
Conclusions: Social capital has a great contribution to improve maternal and child health services. Countries aiming at improving maternal and child health services can be benefited from adapting existing context-specific social networks in the community. This review identified limited available evidence examining the role of social capital on maternal and child health services uptake and future studies may be required for an in-depth understanding of how social capital could improve maternal and child health services.
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