Travel Patterns of Women Giving Birth in the Southern District Health Board
The objective of this mixed method piece of descriptive research is to analyse travel patterns of New Zealand women relating to their selected place of birth, focusing on residents of the Southern District Health Board. It also explores the motivations of a sample of women in this area regarding their birth place choices. Data extracted from Southern District Health Board 2013 electronic records, were analysed using geographic information system software. Spatial modelling was also conducted using this dataset. The second part of the study involved a questionnaire issued to women in Southern District Health Board maternity facilities during a three month period in 2014. In the analysis of 2013 data that women appeared to be by-passing smaller primary maternity units in preference for larger complex care facilities. Spatial modelling examined some possible geographic reasons for this and improved service placement was also modelled based on 2013 demand. Survey results were congruent with other similar research, in that the main reasons for women choosing birth place were a combination of seeking out a safe place whilst remaining as close to home as possible. These priorities caused a tension of distance for rural women. There was no significant statistical variance in the responses between demographic groups. Women are prioritising safety when they choose their birth place. In a large sparsely-populated District Health Board like Southern, this results in some women making long journeys to their chosen birth place as they select complex care facilities over closer primary maternity units or home.