An interpretive description study of the views and experience of obstetric fistula risk factors among women attending evangel vesico vagina fistula centre in Nigeria

Author Identifier


Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Deborah Ireson

Second Supervisor

Esther Adama

Third Supervisor

Sara Bayes


An obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum, which is caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without intervention. Sufferers of obstetric fistula may experience chronic urinary and/or faecal incontinence. Although obstetric fistula is directly caused by prolonged obstructed labour, factors such as unskilled birth assistance can increase fistula risk indirectly. Harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, lack of formal education, illiteracy, poverty, limited social role for women, malnutrition, early marriage before the full development of the pelvis, and a lack of emergency obstetric services are some of the additional factors associated with obstructed labour and fistula formation. To understand the needs of women and implement strategies to reduce the risk factors associated with obstetric fistula, it is essential that women’s views and experiences of obstetric fistula risk factors following birth are more comprehensively understood, to inform responsive midwifery practice. The aim of this study was to explore women’s views on experiences of obstetric fistula risk factors among women attending the Evangel vesico vaginal fistula (EVVF) Centre of Bingham University Teaching Hospital (BUTH), Jos, Nigeria. This qualitative research used an interpretive descriptive design underpinned by symbolic interactionism to explore women’s views and experiences of obstetric fistula risk factors. Participants were recruited from the vesicovaginal fistula Centre of BUTH Jos Nigeria where women are admitted for ongoing obstetric fistula treatment. Data were gathered from individual face-to-face interviews using a semi-structured interview guide until data saturation was reached. Interviews were audio recorded and note-taking was undertaken to complement the data. Information was translated verbatim and thematic analysis was conducted. The findings from this study highlight the depth of Nigerian women’s views and experiences of obstetric fistula risk factors among women attending EVVF Centre in Nigeria. Further research is needed to develop and implement community- level obstetric fistula prevention interventions. In addition, research that will identify the skills needed in the Nigerian midwifery workforce and how best to support midwives working in sub-Saharan countries is needed. An exploration of other stakeholders’ views such as traditional birth attendants on what they think will mitigate obstetric fistula. Research on educational programs that promote women’s autonomy and increase women's decision- making power should be promoted.



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