Enablers and barriers to post-discharge follow-up among women who have undergone a caesarean section: experiences from a prospective cohort in rural Rwanda

BMC Health Serv Res. 2022 Jun 2;22(1):733. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-08137-5.


Background: Caesarean sections account for roughly one third of all surgical procedures performed in low-income countries. Due to lack of standardised post-discharge follow-up protocols and practices, most of available data are extracted from clinical charts during hospitalization and are thus sub-optimal for answering post-discharge outcomes questions. This study aims to determine enablers and barriers to returning to the hospital after discharge among women who have undergone a c-section at a rural district hospital in Rwanda.

Methods: Women aged ≥ 18 years who underwent c-section at Kirehe District Hospital in rural Rwanda in the period March to October 2017 were prospectively followed. A structured questionnaire was administered to participants and clinical data were extracted from medical files between March and October 2017. At discharge, consenting women were given an appointment to return for follow-up on postoperative day 10 (POD 10) (± 3 days) and provided a voucher to cover transport and compensation for participation to be redeemed on their return. Study participants received a reminder call on the eve of their scheduled appointment. We used a backward stepwise logistic regression, at an α = 0.05 significance level, to identify enablers and barriers associated with post-discharge follow-up return.

Results: Of 586 study participants, the majority (62.6%) were between 21-30 years old and 86.4% had a phone contact number. Of those eligible, 90.4% returned for follow-up. The predictors of return were counselling by a female data collector (OR = 9.85, 95%CI:1.43-37.59) and receiving a reminder call (OR = 16.47, 95%CI:7.07-38.38). Having no insurance reduced the odds of returning to follow-up (OR = 0.03, 95%CI:0.03-0.23), and those who spent more than 10.6 Euro for transport to and from the hospital were less likely to return to follow-up (OR = 0.14, 95%CI:0.04- 0.50).

Conclusion: mHealh interventions using calls or notifications can increase the post-discharge follow-up uptake. The reminder calls to patients and discharge counselling by a gender-matching provider had a positive effect on return to care. Further interventions are needed targeting the uninsured and patients facing transportation hardship. Additionally, association between counselling of women patients by a female data collector and greater return to follow-up needs further exploration to optimize counselling procedures.

Keywords: Follow-up; Global surgery; Post-discharge care; Sub-Saharan Africa; Surgical site infections; mHealth.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aftercare
  • Cesarean Section*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, District
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rwanda
  • Young Adult