Factors related to the practice of vacuum-assisted birth: findings from provider interviews in Kigoma, Tanzania

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2021 Apr 14;21(1):302. doi: 10.1186/s12884-021-03738-0.


Background: Vacuum-assisted birth is not widely practiced in Tanzania but efforts to re-introduce the procedure suggest some success. Few studies have targeted childbirth attendants to learn how their perceptions of and training experiences with the procedure affect practice. This study explores a largely rural cohort of health providers to determine associations between recent practice of the procedure and training, individual and contextual factors.

Methods: A cross-sectional knowledge, attitudes and practice survey of 297 providers was conducted in 2019 at 3 hospitals and 12 health centers that provided comprehensive emergency obstetric care. We used descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression to model the probability of having performed a vacuum extraction in the last 3 months.

Results: Providers were roughly split between working in maternity units in hospitals and health centers. They included: medical doctors, assistant medical officers (14%); clinical officers (10%); nurse officers, assistant nurse officers, registered nurses (32%); and enrolled nurses (44%). Eighty percent reported either pre-service, in-service vacuum extraction training or both, but only 31% reported conducting a vacuum-assisted birth in the last 3 months. Based on 11 training and enabling factors, a positive association with recent practice was observed; the single most promising factor was hands-on solo practice during in-service training (66% of providers with this experience had conducted vacuum extraction in the last 3 months). The logistic regression model showed that providers exposed to 7-9 training modalities were 7.8 times more likely to have performed vacuum extraction than those exposed to fewer training opportunities (AOR = 7.78, 95% CI: 4.169-14.524). Providers who worked in administrative councils other than Kigoma Municipality were 2.7 times more likely to have conducted vacuum extraction than their colleagues in Kigoma Municipality (AOR = 2.67, 95% CI: 1.023-6.976). Similarly, providers posted in a health center compared to those in a hospital were twice as likely to have conducted a recent vacuum extraction (AOR = 2.11, 95% CI: 1.153-3.850), and finally, male providers were twice as likely as their female colleagues to have performed this procedure recently (AOR = 1.95, 95% CI: 1.072-3.55).

Conclusions: Training and location of posting were associated with recent practice of vacuum extraction. Multiple training modalities appear to predict recent practice but hands-on experience during training may be the most critical component. We recommend a low-dose high frequency strategy to skills building with simulation and e-learning. A gender integrated approach to training may help ensure female trainees are exposed to critical training components.

Keywords: Assisted vaginal delivery; Emergency obstetric and newborn care; Maternal health; Training; Vacuum assisted birth; Vacuum delivery; Vacuum extraction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwifery / education
  • Midwifery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Simulation Training
  • Tanzania
  • Vacuum Extraction, Obstetrical / education
  • Vacuum Extraction, Obstetrical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult