The role of counseling for obstetric fistula patients: lessons learned from Eritrea

Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Aug;80(2):262-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.11.010. Epub 2010 Jan 19.


Objective: The goal of this study was to evaluate the first formal counseling program for obstetric fistula patients in Eritrea.

Methods: To evaluate the impact of the counseling program, clients were interviewed both before pre-operative counseling and again after post-operative counseling. A questionnaire was used in the interviews to assess women's knowledge about fistula, self-esteem, and their behavioral intentions for health maintenance and social reintegration following surgical repair. In addition, two focus groups were conducted with a total of 19 clients assessing their experiences with the surgical care and counseling.

Results: Data from the questionnaires revealed significant improvements in women's knowledge about fistula, self-esteem, and behavioral intentions following counseling. Focus group data also supported increased knowledge and self-esteem.

Conclusion: Evaluation of the short-term impact of an initial formal counseling program for fistula patients in sub-Saharan Africa affirmed the positive effects that such a program has for fistula patients, with increased knowledge about the causes of fistula, fistula prevention and enhanced self-esteem.

Practical implications: Culturally appropriate counseling can be incorporated into services for surgical repair of obstetric fistula in low-resource settings and has the potential to improve the physical and mental well-being of women undergoing fistula repair.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Counseling*
  • Curriculum
  • Eritrea
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaginal Fistula / prevention & control
  • Vaginal Fistula / rehabilitation
  • Vaginal Fistula / surgery*