Open Access Open Badges Research article

Evaluating quality of obstetric care in low-resource settings: Building on the literature to design tailor-made evaluation instruments - an illustration in Burkina Faso

Florence Morestin1*, Abel Bicaba2, Jean de Dieu Sermé2 and Pierre Fournier13

Author Affiliations

1 International Health Unit, CRCHUM (Research Centre of the University of Montreal Hospital Centre)/University of Montreal, 3875 Avenue Saint Urbain, Montreal, H2W 1V1, Quebec, Canada

2 Burkinabé Public Health Association, 01 BP 3718, Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso

3 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montreal, 1430 Boulevard du Mont-Royal, Outremont, H2V 4P3, Quebec, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:20  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-20

Published: 20 January 2010



There are many instruments available freely for evaluating obstetric care quality in low-resource settings. However, this profusion can be confusing; moreover, evaluation instruments need to be adapted to local issues. In this article, we present tools we developed to guide the choice of instruments and describe how we used them in Burkina Faso to facilitate the participative development of a locally adapted instrument.


Based on a literature review, we developed two tools: a conceptual framework and an analysis grid of existing evaluation instruments. Subsequently, we facilitated several sessions with evaluation stakeholders in Burkina Faso. They used the tools to develop a locally adapted evaluation instrument that was subsequently tested in six healthcare facilities.


Three outputs emerged from this process:

1) A comprehensive conceptual framework for the quality of obstetric care, each component of which is a potential criterion for evaluation.

2) A grid analyzing 37 instruments for evaluating the quality of obstetric care in low-resource settings. We highlight their key characteristics and describe how the grid can be used to prepare a new evaluation.

3) An evaluation instrument adapted to Burkina Faso. We describe the experience of the Burkinabé stakeholders in developing this instrument using the conceptual framework and the analysis grid, while taking into account local realities.


This experience demonstrates how drawing upon existing instruments can inspire and rationalize the process of developing a new, tailor-made instrument. Two tools that came out of this experience can be useful to other teams: a conceptual framework for the quality of obstetric care and an analysis grid of existing evaluation instruments. These provide an easily accessible synthesis of the literature and are useful in integrating it with the context-specific knowledge of local actors, resulting in evaluation instruments that have both scientific and local legitimacy.