Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://doi.org/10.21256/zhaw-30838
Publication type: Article in scientific journal
Type of review: Peer review (publication)
Title: Women's experiences of disrespect and abuse in Swiss facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic : a qualitative analysis of an open-ended question in the IMAgiNE EURO study
Authors: Abderhalden-Zellweger, Alessia
de Labrusse, Claire
Gemperle, Michael
Grylka, Susanne
Pfund, Anouck
Müller, Antonia Nathalie
Mariani, Ilaria
Pessa Valente, Emanuelle
Lazzerini, Marzia
et. al: No
DOI: 10.1186/s12884-024-06598-6
10.21256/zhaw-30838
Published in: BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth
Volume(Issue): 24
Issue: 402
Issue Date: 31-May-2024
Publisher / Ed. Institution: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1471-2393
Language: English
Subjects: COVID-19 pandemic; Disrespect and abuse in maternity care; Maternal health service; Perinatal care; Quality of care; Humans; Female; Switzerland; Adult; Pregnancy; Survey and questionnaire; Attitude of health personnel; SARS-CoV-2; Professional-patient relation; Respect; Quality of health care; Qualitative research; Pandemie
Subject (DDC): 618: Gynecology, obstetrics and midwifery
Abstract: Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the provision of maternal care. The IMAgiNE EURO study investigates the Quality of Maternal and Newborn Care during the pandemic in over 20 countries, including Switzerland. Aim: This study aims to understand women’s experiences of disrespect and abuse in Swiss health facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Data were collected via an anonymous online survey on REDCap®. Women who gave birth between March 2020 and March 2022 and answered an open-ended question in the IMAgiNE EURO questionnaire were included in the study. A qualitative thematic analysis of the women’s comments was conducted using the International Confederation of Midwives’ RESPECT toolkit as a framework for analysis. Findings: The data source for this study consisted of 199 comments provided by women in response to the open-ended question in the IMAgiNE EURO questionnaire. Analysis of these comments revealed clear patterns of disrespect and abuse in health facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These patterns include non-consensual care, with disregard for women’s choices and birth preferences; undignified care, characterised by disrespectful attitudes and a lack of empathy from healthcare professionals; and feelings of abandonment and neglect, including denial of companionship during childbirth and separation from newborns. Insufficient organisational and human resources in health facilities were identified as contributing factors to disrespectful care. Empathic relationships with healthcare professionals were reported to be the cornerstone of positive experiences. Discussion: Swiss healthcare facilities showed shortcomings related to disrespect and abuse in maternal care. The pandemic context may have brought new challenges that compromised certain aspects of respectful care. The COVID-19 crisis also acted as a magnifying glass, potentially revealing and exacerbating pre-existing gaps and structural weaknesses within the healthcare system, including understaffing. Conclusions: These findings should guide advocacy efforts, urging policy makers and health facilities to allocate adequate resources to ensure respectful and high-quality maternal care during pandemics and beyond.
URI: https://digitalcollection.zhaw.ch/handle/11475/30838
Fulltext version: Published version
License (according to publishing contract): CC BY 4.0: Attribution 4.0 International
Departement: School of Health Sciences
Organisational Unit: Institute of Midwifery and Reproductive Health (IHG)
Published as part of the ZHAW project: IMAgiNE EURO (Improving MAternal Newborn carE In the EURO Region)
Appears in collections:Publikationen Gesundheit

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Abderhalden-Zellweger, A., de Labrusse, C., Gemperle, M., Grylka, S., Pfund, A., Müller, A. N., Mariani, I., Pessa Valente, E., & Lazzerini, M. (2024). Women’s experiences of disrespect and abuse in Swiss facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic : a qualitative analysis of an open-ended question in the IMAgiNE EURO study. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 24(402). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-024-06598-6
Abderhalden-Zellweger, A. et al. (2024) ‘Women’s experiences of disrespect and abuse in Swiss facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic : a qualitative analysis of an open-ended question in the IMAgiNE EURO study’, BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 24(402). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-024-06598-6.
A. Abderhalden-Zellweger et al., “Women’s experiences of disrespect and abuse in Swiss facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic : a qualitative analysis of an open-ended question in the IMAgiNE EURO study,” BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, vol. 24, no. 402, May 2024, doi: 10.1186/s12884-024-06598-6.
ABDERHALDEN-ZELLWEGER, Alessia, Claire DE LABRUSSE, Michael GEMPERLE, Susanne GRYLKA, Anouck PFUND, Antonia Nathalie MÜLLER, Ilaria MARIANI, Emanuelle PESSA VALENTE und Marzia LAZZERINI, 2024. Women’s experiences of disrespect and abuse in Swiss facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic : a qualitative analysis of an open-ended question in the IMAgiNE EURO study. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth. 31 Mai 2024. Bd. 24, Nr. 402. DOI 10.1186/s12884-024-06598-6
Abderhalden-Zellweger, Alessia, Claire de Labrusse, Michael Gemperle, Susanne Grylka, Anouck Pfund, Antonia Nathalie Müller, Ilaria Mariani, Emanuelle Pessa Valente, and Marzia Lazzerini. 2024. “Women’s Experiences of Disrespect and Abuse in Swiss Facilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic : A Qualitative Analysis of an Open-Ended Question in the IMAgiNE EURO Study.” BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth 24 (402). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-024-06598-6.
Abderhalden-Zellweger, Alessia, et al. “Women’s Experiences of Disrespect and Abuse in Swiss Facilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic : A Qualitative Analysis of an Open-Ended Question in the IMAgiNE EURO Study.” BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, vol. 24, no. 402, May 2024, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-024-06598-6.


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