Relatively high perinatal mortality and morbidity rates2 in the Netherlands resulted in a process which induced policy changes regarding the Dutch perinatal healthcare system. Aims of this policy analysis are (1) to identify actors, context and process factors that promoted or impeded agenda setting and formulation of policy regarding perinatal health care reform and (2) to present an overview of the renewed perinatal health policy. The policy triangle framework for policy analysis by Walt and Gilson was applied3. Contents of policy, actors, context factors and process factors were identified by triangulation of data from three sources: a document analysis, stakeholder analysis and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders. Analysis enabled us to chronologically reconstruct the policy process in response to the perinatal mortality rates. The quantification of the perinatal mortality problem, the openness of the debate and the nature of the topic were important process factors. Main theme of policy was that change was required in the entire spectrum of perinatal healthcare. This ranged from care in the preconception phase through to the puerperium. Furthermore emphasis was placed on the importance of preventive measures and socio-environmental determinants of health. This required involvement of the preventive setting, including municipalities. The Dutch tiered perinatal healthcare system and divergent views amongst curative perinatal health care providers were important context factors. This study provides lessons which are applicable to health care professionals and policy makers in perinatal care or other multidisciplinary fields.

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Social Science & Medicine
Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics

Vos, A., van Voorst, S., Steegers, E., & Denktaş, S. (2016). Analysis of policy towards improvement of perinatal mortality in the Netherlands (2004-2011). Social Science & Medicine, 157, 156–164. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.01.032