Publications & Reports

Community-based doulas for migrant and refugee women: a mixed-method systematic review and narrative synthesis.

Khaw SM, Zahroh RI, O'Rourke K, Dearnley RE, Homer C, Bohren M
Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Community-based doulas share the same cultural, linguistic, ethnic backgrounds or social experiences as the women they support. Community-based doulas may be able to bridge gaps for migrant and refugee women in maternity settings in high-income countries (HICs). The aim of this review was to explore key stakeholders' perceptions and experiences of community-based doula programmes for migrant and refugee women during labour and birth in HICs, and identify factors affecting implementation and sustainability of such programmes. METHODS: We conducted a mixed-method systematic review, searching MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, Embase and grey literature databases from inception to 20th January 2022. Primary qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods studies focusing on stakeholders' perspectives and experiences of community-based doula support during labour and birth in any HIC and any type of health facility were eligible for inclusion. We used a narrative synthesis approach to analysis and GRADE-CERQual approach to assess confidence in qualitative findings. RESULTS: Twelve included studies were from four countries (USA, Sweden, England and Australia). There were 26 findings categorised under three domains: (1) community-based doulas' role in increasing capacity of existing maternity services; (2) impact on migrant and refugee women’s experiences and health; and (3) factors associated with implementing and sustaining a community-based doula programme. CONCLUSION: Community-based doula programmes can provide culturally-responsive care to migrant and refugee women in HICs. These findings can inform community-based doula organisations, maternity healthcare services and policymakers. Further exploration of the factors that impact programme implementation, sustainability, strategic partnership potential and possible wider-reaching benefits is needed.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: BMJ Global Health
  • Published: 01/07/2022
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 7
  • Pagination: e009098