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Obstetrics - Radiology and Medical Imaging - Women's Health

Refugee and Migrant Women's Views of Antenatal Ultrasound on the Thai Burmese Border: A Mixed Methods Study
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Author: Marcus J. Rijken et al.

by Marcus J. Rijken, Mary Ellen Gilder, May Myo Thwin, Honey Moon Ladda Kajeechewa, Jacher Wiladphaingern, Khin Maung Lwin, Caroline Jones, François Nosten, Rose McGready


Antenatal ultrasound suits developing countries by virtue of its versatility, relatively low cost and safety, but little is known about women’s or local provider’s perspectives of this upcoming technology in such settings. This study was undertaken to better understand how routine obstetric ultrasound is experienced in a displaced Burmese population and identify barriers to its acceptance by local patients and providers.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Qualitative (30 observations, 19 interviews, seven focus group discussions) and quantitative methods (questionnaire survey with 644 pregnant women) were used to provide a comprehensive understanding along four major themes: safety, emotions, information and communication, and unintended consequences of antenatal ultrasound in refugee and migrant clinics on the Thai Burmese border. One of the main concerns expressed by women was the danger of childbirth which they mainly attributed to fetal malposition. Both providers and patients recognized ultrasound as a technology improving the safety of pregnancy and delivery. A minority of patients experienced transitory shyness or anxiety before the ultrasound, but reported that these feelings could be ameliorated with improved patient information and staff communication. Unintended consequences of overuse and gender selective abortions in this population were not common.


The results of this study are being used to improve local practice and allow development of explanatory materials for this population with low literacy. We strongly encourage facilities introducing new technology in resource poor settings to assess acceptability through similar inquiry.