Integration of Traditional Birth Attendants into Mental Healthcare: A Multistakeholder Qualitative Study Exploration

Christine W. Musyimi*, Victoria N. Mutiso, Darius N. Nyamai, Ikenna D. Ebuenyi, David M. Ndetei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. A significant number of people with common mental disorders are undiagnosed or undetected at primary healthcare facilities. The experience of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in reassuring perinatal mothers could be utilized in maternal mental healthcare. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the feasibility of integrating TBAs into maternal mental healthcare using multiple stakeholder views. Methods. We conducted an exploratory qualitative study in September 2017 using focus group discussions (FGDs) and in depth interviews in Makueni County, Kenya. A total of 246 participants (TBAs, community health volunteers (CHVs), healthcare workers (HCWs), antenatal and postnatal mothers seeking care from TBAs and those seeking both hospital and TBA services, mothers in law and/or husbands of perinatal mothers, and opinion leaders based in the county) were purposively selected to participate in the discussions. Transcribed data was analyzed using NVivo version 10. Results. Four major themes emerged from the qualitative data and were identified as follows; (a) involving TBAs in perinatal mental healthcare by assigning them roles, (b) utilizing TBAs' patient rapport and counseling experience, (c) recognition and appreciation of TBAs by the healthcare system, and (d) training and collaboration of TBAs with healthcare workers. Discussion. The findings of this study reveal that although TBAs informally provide psychosocial interventions to pregnant mothers, their roles in mental health are not clearly defined. The importance of TBAs sharing their experience and being recognized as important stakeholders in mental healthcare for perinatal mothers was highlighted. Inclusion of TBAs in dialogue and training them to offer evidence-based mental healthcare were identified as important steps towards improving the mental wellbeing of mothers and the future generation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8195267
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBiomed research international
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2019


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