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WHO Multi-Country Survey on Abortion-related Morbidity and Mortality in Health Facilities: study protocol


Introduction According to the WHO, abortion accounts for about 8% (4.7–13.2) of maternal mortality worldwide. In 2010, the WHO Multi-Country Survey (MCS) on Maternal and Newborn Health collected data on over 300 000 women who were admitted in health facilities to receive pregnancy-related care. Abortion data were partially captured by centring on severe maternal outcomes (ie, near-miss or maternal deaths). Building on the experiences of the prior MCS as well as current WHO reproductive health projects, we are undertaking a multi-country survey to better capture the burden and severity of abortion-related complications and management among women presenting to the health facilities.

Methods and analysis This is a large cross-sectional study with prospective data collection. It will be implemented in health facilities in 30 countries across the WHO regions of Africa, Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, South East Asia and Western Pacific. Countries and facilities will be identified through a multistage sampling methodology. Data collection will be at both the facility and individual levels, involving review of medical records and exit surveys with eligible women using audio computer-assisted self-interview. All women presenting to the health facilities with signs and symptoms of abortion complications will comprise the study population. Online data entry and management will be performed on a web-based data management system. Analysis will include prevalence of abortion-related complications and descriptive frequencies of procedural/non-procedural management and experience of care.

Ethics and dissemination Ethical issues of the consent process are addressed. Dissemination plans will involve the participating facilities and communities to further strengthen abortion-related research capacity within the MCS on Abortion (MCS-A) countries. Furthermore, dissemination of results will be an iterative process at both the facility and national level to potentially propagate positive changes to abortion-related policies and practices.

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