Counselling for prenatal anomaly screening to migrant women in the Netherlands: An interview study of primary care midwives’ perceived barriers with client– midwife communication

Isabel Koopmanschap*, Linda Martin, Janneke T. Gitsels van der Wal, Jeanine Suurmond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


INTRODUCTION Large ethnic inequalities exist in the prenatal screening offer, counselling, informed decision-making, and uptake of prenatal anomaly tests. More insight into midwives’ experiences with offering prenatal counselling to migrant women may provide better insight into the origins and consequences of these ethnic inequalities. METHODS We conducted interviews with 12 midwives certified as counsellors for prenatal anomaly screening for women they identified as migrants. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. RESULTS Midwives reported most diflculties in communicating with women of ‘nonwestern migrant background’, which include firstand second-generation migrants from Africa, Latin-America, Asia, and Turkey. They experienced barriers in communication related to linguistics, health literacy, sociocultural and religious differences, with midwife stereotyping affecting all three aspects of counselling: health education, decisionmaking support, and the client–midwife relation. Health education was diflcult because of language barriers and low health-literacy of clients, decision-making support was hampered by sociocultural and religious midwife–client differences, and client–midwife relations were under pressure due to sociocultural and religious midwife–client differences and midwife stereotyping. CONCLUSIONS Barriers to optimal communication seem to contribute to suboptimal counselling, especially for women of ‘non-western migrant background’. Client–midwife communication thus potentially adds to the ethnic disparities observed in the offer of and informed decision-making about prenatal anomaly screening in the Netherlands. The quality of prenatal counselling for women from all ethnic backgrounds might be improved by addressing linguistic, health literacy, sociocultural and religious barriers in future training and continuing education of prenatal counsellors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalEuropean journal of midwifery
Issue numberMay
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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