Social network structure and prenatal care utilization

Patricia A.St Clair, Vincent L. Smeriglio, Cheryl S. Alexander, David D. Celentano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The associations between social network structural characteristics, sociodemographic factors, and prenatal care utilization were examined in a sample of 185 low-income, inner-city, maternity patients. It was predicted that the networks of women who underutilized care would be larger and of higher density than those of women who utilized care appropriately. They were also expected to be less disperse, with members living near one another; less diverse, with members drawn mainly from immediate family and extended kin; and composed primarily of strong relational ties between members. Findings indicated that women were more likely to underutilize care if they were embedded in strong-tie, nondisperse networks where most members were immediate family or relatives. Of the sociodemographic variables, only parity was associated with prenatal care utilization. The findings support the underlying assumption that social networks have a significant influence on individuals’ utilization of prenatal Services. This suggests that providers of Services to pregnant women may need to revise their current strategies for bringing women into care and their methods of delivering educational Services to women already in care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-832
Number of pages10
JournalMedical care
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1989


  • Prenatal care
  • Social networks
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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