Introduction: Despite the beginnings of preconception care (PCC) delivery around a decade ago in Iran, there are still significant gaps in its service delivery. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of women as well as midwives toward gaps in PCC delivery in the Iranian reproductive health care system.

Methods: In this exploratory qualitative study, 27 married women and 13 midwives were recruited using purposive sampling from five health centers in Mashhad, Northeast of Iran. Respondents participated in semi-structured, in-depth, individual and focus-group interviews to express their perceptions and experiences about gaps in PCC. Data were analyzed using conventional content analysis adopted by of Graneheim and Lundman (2004) with MAXQDA software.

Results: Analysis of data revealed four themes: 1) missing men and adolescents from PCC; 2) insufficient PCC package; 3) inadequate PCC strategies; and 4) health care providers’ incompetency.

Conclusion: It is recommended to deliver gender-sensitive PCC through addressing couples’ instead of just women’s PCC and to take into account the adolescent girls’ health in order to improve their preconception health. Standardization of protocols and attention of health professionals toward occupational–environmental hazards and sexual and reproductive issues as well as enhancing professional capability of health care providers could improve PCC service delivery.


Keywords: Preconception care, Reproductive Health Care, Women, Qualitative Study, Iran
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