Promoting supportive and respectful maternity care in public health facilities in sindh, Pakistan: A theory-informed health system intervention

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: Disrespect, abuse, discrimination, and lack of emotional support characterize intrapartum care in the health systems of many low- and middle-income countries. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) provides frameworks and guidelines to address this issue, no operational model exists that effectively incorporates WHO intrapartum care guidelines into routine public health services. We aimed to develop and pilot-test a theory-driven, service-delivery intervention package linking dignified care with perinatal mental health to promote psychosocially supportive and respectful maternity care (S-RMC) in public health facilities in Sindh, Pakistan.
Methods: Using a mixed-method, pre-post design, the study was implemented in 6 secondary-level public health facilities in 2 rural districts of Southern Sindh, Pakistan. Its development was guided by the COM-B framework and informed by a literature review, formative research, and consultative sessions with implementers. The intervention was implemented in March-September 2021 and compared women's experiences of S-RMC during childbirth at baseline (n=313) and endline (n=314). We used descriptive statistics and linear regression techniques for analysis.
Results: A substantial reduction was observed in the cumulative level of overall mistreatment from baseline to endline, yielding a relative change of 50% (P<.001). Similar change was evident across different types of mistreatment: physical abuse (75%), verbal abuse (72%), ineffective communication (60%), nonconfidential care (78%), health system conditions and constraints (25%), noninclusive care (28%), lack of supportive care (52%), and stigma and discrimination (82%). Furthermore, we observed a significant reduction in the proportion of women experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression before and after the intervention.
Conclusion: This intervention built the capacity of maternity teams while improving accountability, health information systems, and governance measures. Given its promise to promote supportive and respectful childbirth in public health facilities, a large-scale effectiveness evaluation across diverse settings is warranted.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Global Health, Science and Practice