A systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative studies on maternal emergency transport in low- and middle-income countries

Amie Wilson, Sarah Hillman, Mikey Rosato, John Skelton, Anthony Costello, Julia Hussein, Christine MacArthur, Arri Coomarasamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


Most maternal deaths are preventable with emergency obstetric care; therefore, ensuring access is essential. There is little focused information on emergency transport of pregnant women.

The literature on emergency transport of pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) was systematically reviewed and synthesized to explore current practices, barriers, and facilitators for transport utilization.

Search strategy
MEDLINE, EMBASE, BNI, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, African Index Medicus, ASSIA, QUALIDATA, RHL, and Science Citation Index (inception to April 2012) were searched without language restriction.

Selection criteria: Studies using qualitative methodology and reporting on emergency transportation in LMICs were included.

Data collection and analysis
Thematic framework and synthesis through examination and translation of common elements were used to analyze and synthesize the data.

Main results
Twenty-nine articles were included. Eight major themes were identified: time for transport; transport options; geography; local support; autonomy; culture; finance; and ergonomics. Key issues were transport availability; transport speed; terrain; meteorology; support; dependence for decision making; cultural issues; cost; and lack of safe, comfortable positioning during transport.

Themes should be appreciated within local contexts to illuminate barriers and facilitators. Potential solutions include motorcycle ambulance programs, collaboration with taxi services, community education, subsidies, and vehicle maintenance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-201
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013



  • access
  • ambulance
  • emergency
  • obstetric transport
  • referral

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