Psychological Sequelae of Obstetric Fistula in Tanzanian Women
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Up to two million women worldwide have obstetric fistula, a maternal morbidity prevalent in developing countries that causes uncontrollable leaking of urine and/or feces and a persistent bad odor. There is both theoretical and empirical evidence for psychopathology in patients presenting for fistula surgery, albeit with methodological limitations. The current studies sought to improve on past limitations of study design. Study A compared psychological symptoms and social support between fistula patients and a comparison group recruited from gynecology outpatient clinics. Measures included previously validated psychometric questionnaires, administered orally by data collectors. Results showed that compared to gynecology outpatients, fistula patients had significantly higher levels of depression, traumatic stress, somatic symptoms and avoidant coping, and had lower social support. Study B investigated changes in psychological symptoms, stigma and social support between the time of admission for fistula repair and 3 months after discharge from the hospital. At follow-up, fistula patients reported significant improvements in all study outcome variables. Exploratory analysis revealed that the extent of leaking was associated with depression and PTSD. These results indicate the potential benefit of mental health interventions for this population. Additionally, future research may clarify the relationship between residual leaking after fistula surgery, and its effect on post-surgery mental health outcomes.
DepartmentPsychology and Neuroscience
Obstetrics and gynecology
PTSD=posttraumatic stress disorder
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