Rehabilitation experiences after obstetric fistula repair: systematic review of qualitative studies

Trop Med Int Health. 2015 May;20(5):554-568. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12469. Epub 2015 Feb 18.


Objectives: To synthesise evidence on women's experiences surrounding rehabilitation and reintegration after obstetric fistula repair in sub-Saharan Africa and explore recommendations from women and health service providers.

Method: Systematic literature review of qualitative studies surrounding rehabilitation experiences of women in sub-Saharan Africa who have undergone obstetric fistula repair. Using a pre-defined search strategy, seven databases, relevant source publications and grey literature were searched for primary qualitative studies. Data from ten studies were collected, and thematic analysis based on the framework approach was used to analyse the findings.

Results: The most important rehabilitating factor for women was fulfilment of social roles. Health service perspectives were more frequent than women's perspectives. Counselling and health education were the most common recommendations from both perspectives.

Conclusion: Little qualitative evidence is available on rehabilitation after obstetric fistula repair in sub-Saharan Africa. Counselling services and community health education are priorities. Further research should emphasise women's perspectives to better inform interventions aimed at addressing the physical and social consequences of obstetric fistula.

Keywords: fistule obstétricale; fístula obstétrica; obstetric fistula; rehabilitación; rehabilitation; reintegración; reintegration; réadaptation; réinsertion.

Publication types

  • Review