As a result of global migration, health professionals in destination countries are increasingly being called upon to provide care for women and girls who have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). There is considerable evidence to suggest that their care experiences are sub-optimal. This systematic review sought to illuminate possible reasons for this by exploring the views, experiences, barriers and facilitators to providing FGM-related healthcare in high income countries, from health professionals’ perspectives.
Sixteen electronic databases/resources were searched from inception to December 2017, supplemented by reference list searching and suggestions from experts. Inclusion criteria were: qualitative studies (including grey literature) of any design, any cadre of health worker, from OECD countries, of any date and any language. Two reviewers undertook screening, selection, quality appraisal and data extraction using tools from the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI). Synthesis involved an inductive thematic approach to identify descriptive themes and interpret these into higher order analytical constructs. Confidence in the review findings was assessed using GRADE-CERQual. The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD420150300042015).
Thirty papers (representing 28 distinct studies) from nine different countries were included. The majority of studies focused on maternity contexts. No studies specifically examined health professionals’ role in FGM/C prevention/safeguarding. There were 20 descriptive themes summarised into six analytical themes that highlighted factors perceived to influence care: knowledge and training, communication, cultural (mis)understandings, identification of FGM/C, clinical management practices and service configuration. Together, these inter-linked themes illuminate the ways in which confidence, communication and competence at provider level and the existence and enactment of pathways, protocols and specialist support at service/system level facilitate or hinder care.
FGM/C is a complex and culturally shaped phenomenon. In order to work effectively across cultural divides, there is a need for provider training, clear guidelines, care pathways and specialist FGM/C centres to support mainstream services.
Evans, C., Twehheyo, R., McGarry, J., Eldridge, J., Albert, J., Nkoyo, V., & Higginbottom, G. (2019). Crossing cultural divides: a qualitative systematic review of factors influencing the provision of healthcare related to female genital mutilation from the perspective of health professionals. PLoS ONE, 14(3), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0211829