Publications & Reports

Health workers' and hospital administrators' perspectives on mistreatment of women during facility-based childbirth: a multicenter qualitative study in Ghana.

Adu-Bonsaffoh K, Tamma E, Maya E, Vogel JP, Tunçalp Ö, Bohren MA
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Ghana Medical School, Accra, Ghana. [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Globally, mistreatment of women during facility-based childbirth continues to impact negatively on the quality of maternal healthcare provision and utilization. The views of health workers are vital in achieving comprehensive understanding of mistreatment of women, and to design evidence-based interventions to prevent it. We explored the perspectives of health workers and hospital administrators on mistreatment of women during childbirth to identify opportunity for improvement in the quality of maternal care in health facilities. METHODS: A qualitative study comprising in-depth interviews (IDIs) with 24 health workers and hospital administrators was conducted in two major towns (Koforidua and Nsawam) in the Eastern region of Ghana. The study was part of a formative mixed-methods project to develop an evidence-based definition, identification criteria and two tools for measuring mistreatment of women in facilities during childbirth. Data analysis was undertaken based on thematic content via the inductive analytic framework approach, using Nvivo version 12.6.0. RESULT: Health workers and hospital administrators reported mixed feelings regarding the quality of care women receive. Almost all respondents were aware of mistreatment occurring during childbirth, describing physical and verbal abuse and denial of preferred birthing positions and companionship. Rationalizations for mistreatment included limited staff capacity, high workload, perceptions of women’s non-compliance and their attitudes towards staff. Health workers had mixed responses regarding the acceptability of mistreatment of women, although most argued against it. Increasing staff strength, number of health facilities, refresher training for health workers and adequate education of women about pregnancy and childbirth were suggestions to minimize such mistreatment. CONCLUSION: Health workers indicated that some women are mistreated during birth in the study sites and provided various rationalizations for why this occurred. There is urgent need to motivate, retrain or otherwise encourage health workers to prevent mistreatment of women and promote respectful maternity care. Further research on implementation of evidence-based interventions could help mitigate mistreatment of women in health facilities.

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  • Journal: Reproductive Health
  • Published: 29/03/2022
  • Volume: 19
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: 82