BACKGROUND: Ethiopia has one of the lowest rates of facility delivery and is promoting birth preparedness among pregnant women through its community health services to increase the rate of institutional delivery and reduce maternal mortality. Observational studies of birth preparedness in Ethiopia have thus far only reported the marginal effect of birth preparedness when controlling for other factors, such as parity and education. OBJECTIVES: In this cross-sectional study, we use propensity score modeling to estimate the average population-level effect of birth preparedness on the likelihood of delivering at a facility. METHODS: We conducted secondary analysis of household survey data collected from 215 women with a recent live birth within the catchment areas of 10 semi-urban health centers. A mother was considered well prepared for birth if she reported completing four of the following six actions: identified a skilled provider, identified an institution, saved money, identified transport, prepared clean delivery materials, and prepared food. We performed unadjusted and multivariate logistic regression analyses, with and without propensity score weighting, to assess the relationship between birth preparedness and institutional delivery. FINDINGS: One hundred respondents (47%) delivered in an institution, and over two-thirds (151, 71%) were considered well prepared for birth. Institutional delivery was more common among women who were considered well prepared (57%) versus those who were considered not well prepared (19%). In the model with propensity score weighting, women who were well prepared for birth had 3.83 times higher odds of delivering at a facility (95% CI: 1.41-10.40, p-value = 0.010). CONCLUSIONS: This study contributes to existing evidence supporting the inclusion of antenatal birth preparedness counseling as a part of an antenatal care package for promoting institutional delivery. Important gaps remain in operationalizing the definition of birth preparedness and understanding the pathway from exposure to outcome.
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