Obstetric violence: a health system study

Raksha K. Shetty, Padmaja Y. Samant, Priyanka U. Honavar


Background: Disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth is a global problem with differing driving factors in different contexts. Obstetric Violence (OV) refers to professional deficiencies in maternity care. The objective of this study was to assess knowledge and attitudes towards OV in a cohort of members of the obstetric healthcare team at a tertiary care, teaching hospital in Western India (Mumbai).

Methods: A questionnaire-based study involving 80 participants comprising of trainee doctors and faculty, nursing students, staff and teachers from the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and hospital administration.

Results: 57.97% of participants had heard the term ‘Obstetric violence’ earlier. 75.36% reported verbal abuse as a form of OV, others being physical abuse, non-consented care, discriminatory care, abandonment/neglect or refusal of care and imposition of interventions without scientific basis. 53% and 89.8% of the participants did not consider routine episiotomies and artificial rupture of membrane respectively as forms of OV. 84.06% and 59.4% of participants considered instrumental delivery without consent and Caesarean section citing safety/convenience respectively as forms of OV. 82.6% participants endorsed the need of birth companion. Improving the number and training of healthcare providers and better institutional policies on respectful maternity care were suggested as solutions.

Conclusions: Majority of the participants had witnessed some form of OV. The need for practical training of healthcare personnel and better infrastructure in the healthcare system were emphasised, but there appeared to be a lack of consciousness of the paternalistic mindset and approach to women in labour. Soft skills training of healthcare providers with emphasis on key ethical principles like autonomy, respect and dignity is crucial to address the issue of OV.



Non-consensual care. Obstetric violence, Professionalism, Respectful maternity care

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