Open Access Study protocol

Study protocol for promoting respectful maternity care initiative to assess, measure and design interventions to reduce disrespect and abuse during childbirth in Kenya

Charlotte Warren1, Rebecca Njuki1*, Timothy Abuya1, Charity Ndwiga1, Grace Maingi2, Jane Serwanga2, Faith Mbehero3, Louisa Muteti3, Anne Njeru4, Joseph Karanja67, Joyce Olenja6, Lucy Gitonga5, Chris Rakuom5 and Ben Bellows1

Author Affiliations

1 Population Council, P.O Box 17643–00500, Nairobi, Kenya

2 Federation of Women Lawyers, P.O. BOX 46324–00100, Nairobi, Kenya

3 National Nurses Association of Kenya, P.O BOX 49422–00100, Nairobi, Kenya

4 Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, Division of Reproductive Health, P. O. Box 43319–00100, Nairobi, Kenya

5 Ministry of Medical Services, Department of Nursing, P.O. Box: 30016–00100, Nairobi, Cathedral Road, Nairobi, Kenya

6 University of Nairobi, P. O. Box 19676, Nairobi, KNH, Kenya

7 Kenya Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, P.O Box 19459–00202, Nairobi, Kenya

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:21  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-21

Published: 24 January 2013



Increases in the proportion of facility-based deliveries have been marginal in many low-income countries in the African region. Preliminary clinical and anthropological evidence suggests that one major factor inhibiting pregnant women from delivering at facility is disrespectful and abusive treatment by health care providers in maternity units. Despite acknowledgement of this behavior by policy makers, program staff, civil society groups and community members, the problem appears to be widespread but prevalence is not well documented. Formative research will be undertaken to test the reliability and validity of a disrespect and abuse (D&A) construct and to then measure the prevalence of disrespect and abuse suffered by clinic clients and the general population.


A quasi-experimental design will be followed with surveys at twelve health facilities in four districts and one large maternity hospital in Nairobi and areas before and after the introduction of disrespect and abuse (D&A) interventions. The design is aimed to control for potential time dependent confounding on observed factors.


This study seeks to conduct implementation research aimed at designing, testing, and evaluating an approach to significantly reduce disrespectful and abusive (D&A) care of women during labor and delivery in facilities. Specifically the proposed study aims to: (i) determine the manifestations, types and prevalence of D&A in childbirth (ii) develop and validate tools for assessing D&A (iii) identify and explore the potential drivers of D&A (iv) design, implement, monitor and evaluate the impact of one or more interventions to reduce D&A and (v) document and assess the dynamics of implementing interventions to reduce D&A and generate lessons for replication at scale.

Disrespect and abuse; Skilled birth attendant; Childbirth; Implementation research; Kenya