UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Community perceptions of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia in Ogun State, Nigeria: a qualitative study Akeju, David O; Vidler, Marianne; Oladapo, Olufemi T; Sawchuck, Diane; Qureshi, Rahat; von Dadelszen, Peter; Adetoro, Olalekan O; Dada, Olukayode A


Background: Pre-eclampsia is a complication of pregnancy responsible for high rates of morbidity and mortality, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. When undetected or poorly managed, it may progress to eclampsia which further worsens the prognosis. While most studies examining pre-eclampsia have used a bio-medical model, this study recognizes the role of the socio-cultural environment, in order to understand perceptions of pre-eclampsia within the community. Methods: The study was conducted in Ogun State, Nigeria in 2011–2012. Data were obtained through twenty-eight focus group discussions; seven with pregnant women (N = 80), eight with new mothers (N = 95), three with male decision-makers (N = 35), six with community leaders (N = 68), and three with traditional birth attendants (N = 36). Interviews were also conducted with the heads of the local traditional birth attendants (N = 4) and with community leaders (N = 5). Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed in NVivo 10 software. Results: There was no terminology reportedly used for pre-eclampsia in the native language - Yoruba; however, hypertension has several terms independent of pregnancy status. Generally, ‘gìrì âlábôyún’ describes seizures specific to pregnancy. The cause of hypertension in pregnancy was thought to be due to depressive thoughts as a result of marital conflict and financial worries, while seizures in pregnancy were perceived to result from prolonged exposure to cold. There seemed to be no traditional treatment for hypertension. However for seizures the use of herbs, concoctions, incisions, and topical application of black soap were widespread. Conclusion: This study illustrates that knowledge of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are limited amongst communities of Ogun State, Nigeria. Findings reveal that pre-eclampsia was perceived as a stress-induced condition, while eclampsia was perceived as a product of prolonged exposure to cold. Thus, heat-related local medicines and herbal concoctions were the treatment options. Perceptions anchored on cultural values and lack of adequate and focused public health awareness is a major constraint to knowledge of the aetiology and treatment of the conditions. A holistic approach is recommended for sensitization at the community level and the need to change the community perceptions of pre-eclampsia remains a challenge. Trial Registration NCT01911494 .

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