Journal Article

Exploring the prevalence of disrespect and abuse during childbirth in Kenya

Background
Poor quality of care including fear of disrespect and abuse (D&A) perpetuated by health workers influences women’s decisions to seek maternity care. Key manifestations of D&A include: physical abuse, non-consented care, non-confidential care, non-dignified care, discrimination, abandonment, and detention in facilities. This paper describes manifestations of D&A experienced in Kenya and measures their prevalence.

Methods
This paper is based on baseline data collected during a before-and-after study designed to measure the effect of a package of interventions to reduce the prevalence of D&A experienced by women during labor and delivery in thirteen Kenyan health facilities. Data were collected through an exit survey of 641 women discharged from postnatal wards. We present percentages of D&A manifestations and odds ratios of its relationship with demographic characteristics using a multivariate fixed effects logistic regression model.

Results
Twenty percent of women reported any form of D&A. Manifestations of D&A includes: non-confidential care (8.5%), non-dignified care (18%), neglect or abandonment (14.3%), Non-consensual care (4.3%) physical abuse (4.2%) and, detainment for non-payment of fees (8.1). Women aged 20–29 years were less likely to experience non-confidential care compared to those under 19; OR: [0.6 95% CI (0.36, 0.90); p=0.017]. Clients with no companion during delivery were less likely to experience inappropriate demands for payment; OR: [0.49 (0.26, 0.95); p=0.037]; while women with higher parities were three times more likely to be detained for lack of payment and five times more likely to be bribed compared to those experiencing there first birth.

Conclusion
One out of five women experienced feeling humiliated during labor and delivery. Six categories of D&A during childbirth in Kenya were reported. Understanding the prevalence of D&A is critical in developing interventions at national, health facility and community levels to address the factors and drivers that influence D&A in facilities and to encourage clients’ future facility utilization.