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Knowledge of Female Genital Cutting and Experience With Women Who Are Circumcised: A Survey of Nurse-Midwives in the United States


  • Rosanna F. Hess DNP,

    Corresponding author
      Research for Health, Inc., 4321 Northampton Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223. E-mail:
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    • Rosanna F. Hess, DNP, is an instructor of nursing at Malone University, Canton, OH. She is also president of and researcher with Research For Health, Inc., Cuyahoga Falls, OH.

  • JoAnn Weinland ACNS-BC, MSN,

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    • JoAnn Weinland, ACNS-BC, MSN, is a member of the faculty of Aultman College of Nursing, Canton, OH.

  • Natalie M. Saalinger CNP, MSN

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    • Natalie M. Saalinger, CNP, MSN, is a certified nurse practitioner and currently works as a staff nurse in the surgical intensive care unit at Northside Hospital in Youngstown, OH.

Research for Health, Inc., 4321 Northampton Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223. E-mail:


Thousands of women with a history of female genital cutting (FGC) have immigrated to the United States. The purpose of this study was to assess certified nurse-midwives' (CNMs') knowledge of FGC and to explore their experiences caring for African immigrant women with a history of genital cutting. A descriptive survey design was used. A random sample of 600 CNMs from the member list of the American College of Nurse-Midwives was surveyed. Two hundred forty-three CNMs completed a survey of FGC knowledge and provider experience. The respondents exhibited more correct medical knowledge about FGC than knowledge of cultural and legal issues. Differences in correct or incorrect knowledge were statistically significant based on provider experience. Almost 70% of respondents could identify infibulation. Less than 20% knew that both Muslim and Christian women are circumcised. Fifty-seven percent knew that it is illegal in the United States to circumcise women younger than 18 years of age. We found that discussions between CNMs and clients who were circumcised regarding FGC-related concerns and complications were minimal. Women with a history of FGC want female providers. Reinfibulation poses an ethical dilemma for some CNMs. Nurse-midwives in the United States need to learn more about FGC and the cultures of their clients in order to provide culturally competent care.

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