Mental health screening in women with genital tract fistulae

BJOG. 2005 Sep;112(9):1328-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2005.00712.x.


There is little information regarding the mental health status of women with genital tract fistulae in developing countries. The aim of this prospective observational study was to screen women at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh (December 2003 to June 2004), and Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, Ethiopia (June to July 2004), with genital tract fistula for mental health dysfunction. Women presenting to the above institutions were screened using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) prior to fistula surgery. As the women were illiterate, the questionnaire was completed with the assistance of a medical officer, nurse or interpreter. The female staff members acted as controls. Sixty-eight women with fistulae and 28 controls completed the GHQ-28. Sixty-six of the 68 women with fistulae screened positive to probable mental health dysfunction compared with 9 of the 28 controls. We conclude that women with genital tract fistula are at high risk of mental health dysfunction. If the high rates of positive screening are confirmed on psychiatric evaluation, then the management of women with genital tract fistulas must include routine psychological/psychiatric assessment and treatment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bangladesh
  • Female
  • Fistula / psychology*
  • Genital Diseases, Female / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rectal Fistula / psychology
  • Urinary Fistula / psychology