Application of the kessner and kotelchuck prenatal care adequacy indices in a preterm birth population

Joan Rosen Bloch, Katy Dawley, Patricia Dunphy Suplee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: Healthy People 2010 goals to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities that persist in the utilization of prenatal care (PNC) highlight the importance of measuring PNC as a variable in maternal and infant health outcomes research. These disparities are significantly correlated to adverse infant outcomes in preterm birth (PTB), a leading cause of infant mortality and life-long morbidity. Currently the most extensively used PNC adequacy indices (Kessner and Kotelchuck) were developed to measure outcomes in populations consisting mostly of full-term births. It is unclear whether these PNC adequacy indices are reliable when pregnancy is truncated due to PTB (<37 weeks). This paper compares and demonstrates how they can be applied in a specific PTB cohort. Design and Sample: This secondary analysis of a nested case-control study compares Kessner and Kotelchuck adequacy scores of 367 mothers of PTB infants. Results: There were significant differences in the rating of PNC inadequacy ( p<.001) depending on the PNC adequacy index used. Conclusion: Critical evaluation is warranted before using these PNC adequacy indices in future public health nursing and PTB research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Health Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Kessner Index
  • Kotelchuck Index
  • Methodological challenges measuring PNC
  • Prenatal care adequacy indices
  • Prenatal care utilization
  • Preterm birth


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