Moderated Poster

Poster, Podium & Video Sessions

MP86-15: EFFECTS OF GROUP REHABILITATION UPON WOMEN UNDERGOING SURGERY FOR OBSTETRIC FISTULA

Monday, May 15
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: BCEC: Room 156

Presentation Authors: Pooja Parameshwar*, Los Angeles, CA, Musa Kayondo, Mbarara, Uganda, A. Lenore Ackerman, Jennifer Anger, Christopher Tarnay, Los Angeles, CA

Introduction: Obstetric fistula due to prolonged obstructed labor is a significant public health concern in the developing world. Fistula patients experience chronically elevated levels of social isolation, stigmatization, and depression. In this qualitative study, we aimed to evaluate the experience of group rehabilitation during postoperative recovery in the setting of a "fistula camp" upon women seeking surgical care for fistula and related birth injuries. As this population is marginalized and ostracized, we predicted that group rehabilitation might be particularly germane.

Methods: Study participants were women who received surgical care for obstetric fistula and high-grade perineal lacerations at the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda during 2 fistula camps in 2015 and 2016. Using semi-structured interviews, we sought to characterize the lived experiences of these women and their feelings surrounding their medical and surgical care in the setting of a group-based rehabilitative fistula camp. Interviews were conducted via translators who spoke the native dialects. Data was transcribed and analyzed using grounded theory methods, as described by Charmaz. We also directly observed women during their stay and recorded the frequency and types of interpersonal behaviors and interactions.

Results: Twenty-six women participated in the interviews. Themes of social isolation, depression, shame, and stress were present in women's testimonials of their experiences prior to fistula camp arrival (see Table). When discussing experiences during and after fistula camp stay, themes of social support and hopefulness emerged. Behaviors and interactions indicating social integration with bond formation and social support within the fistula ward were observed.

Conclusions: Exposure to other women who had obstetric fistula was of therapeutic benefit to women with these same conditions. We found that the impact of shared experience amongst the women played a critical role in their understanding, perception, and outlook towards their condition and their hope for recovery. A group-based model of postoperative care that integrates physical and psychosocial healing may be highly effective for this population.

Source Of Funding: None

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MP86-15: EFFECTS OF GROUP REHABILITATION UPON WOMEN UNDERGOING SURGERY FOR OBSTETRIC FISTULA



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