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Improved maternity care if midwives learn to perform ultrasound: a qualitative study of Rwandan midwives' experiences and views of obstetric ultrasound
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3391-2308
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology. La Trobe Univ, Judith Lumley Ctr, Melbourne, Vic, Australia.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6883-3664
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2017 (English)In: Global Health Action, ISSN 1654-9716, E-ISSN 1654-9880, Vol. 10, no 1, article id 1350451Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Obstetric ultrasound has become an indispensable part of antenatal care worldwide. Although the use of ultrasound has shown benefits in the reduction of maternal and foetal morbidity and mortality, it has also raised many ethical challenges. Because of insufficient numbers of midwives in Rwanda, uncomplicated pregnancy care is usually provided by nurses in local health centres. Obstetric ultrasound is generally performed by physicians at higher levels of healthcare, where midwives are also more likely to be employed.

Objectives: To explore Rwandan midwives’ experiences and views of the role of obstetric ultrasound in relation to clinical management, including ethical aspects.

Methods: A qualitative study design was employed. Six focus group discussions were held in 2015 with 23 midwives working in maternity care in rural and urban areas of Rwanda, as part of the CROss Country Ultrasound Study (CROCUS).

Results: Obstetric ultrasound was experienced as playing a very important role in clinical management of pregnant women, but participants emphasised that it should not overshadow other clinical examinations. The unequal distribution of ultrasound services throughout Rwanda was considered a challenge, and access was described as low, especially in rural areas. To increase the quality of maternity care, some advocated strongly for midwives to be trained in ultrasound and for physicians to receive additional training. In general, pregnant women were perceived both as requesting more ultrasound examinations than they received, and as not being satisfied with an antenatal consultation if ultrasound was not performed.

Conclusions: Obstetric ultrasound plays a significant role in maternity care in Rwanda. Increasing demand for ultrasound examinations from pregnant women needs to be balanced with medical indication and health benefits. Training of midwives to perform obstetric ultrasound and further training for physicians would help to address access to ultrasound for greater numbers of women across Rwanda.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 10, no 1, article id 1350451
Keywords [en]
Rwanda, nurse, midwives, ultrasonography, obstetrics, pregnant women
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-138408DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1350451ISI: 000406687700001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-138408DiVA, id: diva2:1135620
Available from: 2017-08-23 Created: 2017-08-23 Last updated: 2019-09-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Health professionals’ experiences and views related to obstetric ultrasound in Rwanda and Vietnam
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Health professionals’ experiences and views related to obstetric ultrasound in Rwanda and Vietnam
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background

Obstetric ultrasound has become an indispensable part of maternity care in high-income countries, where it is universally used for screening, diagnostic and surveillance purposes. In low-income countries, insufficient numbers of trained health professionals’ is commonly a barrier to obstetric ultrasound use. Globally, health professionals’ encounter complex clinical situations in which rapid technical improvements in fetal surveillance and pregnancy interventions are components that influence clinical decisions, thereby implicating maternal and fetal health outcomes.

Aims

The overall aim of this thesis was to explore health professionals’ experiences and views on the role of obstetric ultrasound in relation to clinical management, including ethical aspects, in two low-to-middle-income countries with different characteristics, cultures, religions and health care systems.

Methods

Study I (Rwanda) and Study III (Vietnam) are based on focus group discussions in which data were analysed using content analysis. Study I included six focus group discussions with 23 midwives recruited from six different hospitals in the area of Kigali and in the Southern province. Study III included four focus group discussions with 25 midwives working at three different hospitals in the Hanoi area. Study II (Rwanda) and Study IV (Vietnam) are cross-sectional studies using descriptive statistics, Pearson’s chi-square test and logistic regression analyses. A questionnaire, including items based on the results from previous qualitative studies, was used as the data collection tool. For Study II, health professionals (midwives, nurses, obstetricians, other physicians; N=907) working at 108 health facilities representing all provinces of Rwanda were recruited. Study IV constituted a regional sample of 824 health professionals (midwives, obstetricians/gynecologists) working at 29 health facilities in urban, semi-urban and rural parts of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Main findings

Obstetric ultrasound was regarded as a highly valued tool for pregnancy management in Rwanda as well as in Vietnam (Papers I–IV). In Rwanda, access to ultrasound was described as poor, especially for women living in rural areas (Paper I). In contrast, access to obstetric ultrasound was described as being very high in all health facilities in urban, semi-urban and rural areas of Hanoi (Paper III & Paper IV). In Rwanda, if a pregnancy was considered normal, obstetric ultrasound was not routinely performed (Paper I), while pregnant women in Vietnam were reported as undergoing several further ultrasound examinations in addition to the three examinations recommended by the Ministry of Health (Paper III). Midwives in Rwanda expressed a need to be trained in ultrasound, particularly those working at health centres in rural areas where ultrasound was rarely available (Paper I). A majority of health professionals (91%) also agreed that maternity care in Rwanda would improve if midwives were qualified to perform basic ultrasound examinations (Paper II). Sub-optimal pregnancy management due to a lack of or insufficient ultrasound training was reported by health professionals in both Rwanda (65%; Paper II) and Vietnam (37%; Paper IV). The use of obstetric ultrasound without medical indication was described as a troubling phenomenon, especially in Vietnam, where participants also reported that pregnant women sometimes replaced antenatal care surveillancewith ultrasound examinations (Paper III).

Conclusion

Obstetric ultrasound plays a significant role in pregnancy management in Rwanda, although access varies significantly. The findings indicate that physicians in Rwanda are in need of additional formal ultrasound training in order to increase the quality of ultrasound surveillance and to improve maternal and fetal health outcomes. To increase ultrasound access for all pregnant women in Rwanda, midwives could potentially be trained to perform basic ultrasound examinations. In the Hanoi area of Vietnam, ultrasound is a well-integrated tool in pregnancy management and access was high. However, overuse and commercialisation of obstetric ultrasound examinations were described as common and need to be addressed to achieve adequate allocation of resources. The rapid development of technology in maternity care needs to be accompanied by medical guidelines stating the appropriate indications for ultrasound surveillance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2019. p. 79
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 2042
Keywords
Prenatal ultrasonography, pregnancy, midwife, obstetrician, health personnel, health professional, prenatal care, epidemiology, cross-sectional study, focus group discussion, qualitative content analysis, Rwanda, Vietnam
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-163509 (URN)978-91-7855-087-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-10-18, Stora Hörsalen, 5B, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-09-27 Created: 2019-09-24 Last updated: 2019-09-24Bibliographically approved

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Holmlund, SophiaEdvardsson, KristinaSengoma, Jean Paul SemasakaÅhman, AnnikaMogren, Ingrid

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