A qualitative study of conceptions and attitudes regarding maternal mortality among traditional birth attendants in rural Guatemala.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: To explore conceptions of obstetric emergency care among traditional birth attendants in rural Guatemala, elucidating social and cultural factors. STUDY: design Qualitative in-depth interview study. SETTING: Rural Guatemala. SAMPLE: Thirteen traditional birth attendants from 11 villages around San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala. METHOD: Interviews with semi-structured, thematic, open-ended questions. Interview topics were: traditional birth attendants' experiences and conceptions as to the causes of complications, attitudes towards hospital care and referral of obstetric complications. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Conceptions of obstetric complications, hospital referrals and maternal mortality among traditional birth attendants. RESULTS: Pregnant women rather than traditional birth attendants appear to make the decision on how to handle a complication, based on moralistically and fatalistically influenced thoughts about the nature of complications, in combination with a fear of caesarean section, maltreatment and discrimination at a hospital level. There is a discrepancy between what traditional birth attendants consider appropriate in cases of complications, and the actions they implement to handle them. CONCLUSION: Parameters in the referral system, such as logistics and socio-economic factors, are sometimes subordinated to cultural values by the target group. To have an impact on maternal mortality, bilateral culture-sensitive education should be included in maternal health programs.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1372-1377
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Obstetrics and Gynaecology (013242700), Social Anthropology (012013002), Division of Social Medicine and Global Health (013241820), Pediatrics/Urology/Gynecology/Endocrinology (013240400)

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