The impact of surgical treatment on the mental health of women with obstetric fistula


Dr A Browning, Barhirdar Hamlin Fistula Centre, PO Box 1739, Barhirdar, Ethiopia. Email


Obstetric fistula is estimated to affect 2 million women worldwide and has considerable social and psychological effects on affected individuals. In this prospective study, 51 consecutive women with obstetric fistula admitted to the Barhirdar Hamlin Fistula Centre in the north of Ethiopia were screened using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) for potential mental health disorder before and 2 weeks after fistula surgery. Prior to surgery, all women screened positive. By 2 weeks after, this had dropped to 36% (P = 0.005). 27% of the 45 women who were cured of their incontinence screened positive, while all 6 of those with severe residual incontinence continued to screen positive. We conclude that surgical treatment of obstetric fistula results in marked improvements in mental heath.