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Continuity of primary care and prenatal care adequacy among women with disabilities in Ontario: a population-based cohort study

Nishat F, Lunsky Y, Tarasoff LA, Brown HK. Disabil Health J. 2022; 15(3):101322. Epub 2022 Mar 26. DOI:

Background — Women with disabilities experience elevated risks for pregnancy complications and report barriers accessing prenatal care. Emerging evidence highlights the significant role primary care providers play in promoting preventive services like prenatal care.

Objective — To examine the relationship between continuity of primary care (COC) and prenatal care adequacy among women with disabilities.

Methods — We conducted a population-based study using health administrative data in Ontario, Canada. The study population included 15 to 49-year-old women with physical (n = 106,555), sensory (n = 32,194), intellectual/developmental (n = 1515), and multiple (n = 6543) disabilities who had a singleton livebirth or stillbirth in 2003–2017 and ≥ 3 primary care visits <2 years before conception. COC was measured using the Usual Provider of Care Index. Nominal logistic regression was used to compute adjusted odds ratios (aOR) for prenatal care adequacy, measured using the Revised-Graduated Prenatal Care Utilization Index, for women with low versus moderate/high COC, controlling for other social and medical characteristics.

Results — Women with disabilities with low COC, versus those with moderate/high COC, had increased odds of no (aOR 1.42, 95% CI 1.29–1.56), inadequate (aOR 1.19, 95% CI 1.16–1.23), and intensive prenatal care (aOR 1.22, 95% CI 1.19–1.25) versus adequate. In additional analyses, women with low COC and no/inadequate prenatal care were the most socially disadvantaged among the cohort, and those with low COC and intensive prenatal care had the greatest medical need.

Conclusion — Improving primary care access for women with disabilities, particularly those experiencing social disadvantage, could lead to better prenatal care access.