Authors: Linnea A. Zimmerman, Solomon Shiferaw, Assefa Seme, Yuanyuan Yi, John Grove, Claire-Helene Mershon, & Saifuddin Ahmed
Journal: PLoS ONE, 14(5). May 2019
This study assessed the reliability of maternal recall of pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum events over a six-month period and identified relevant individual characteristics associated with inconsistent reporting. A longitudinal household survey was conducted with 321 pregnant women in 44 enumeration areas in Southern Nationals, Nationalities and People’s Region in Ethiopia. Women who were six or more months pregnant were enrolled and interviewed at seven days, six weeks, and six months post-partum using an identical set of questions regarding maternal and neonatal health and receipt of select neonatal care interventions. Researchers compared responses given at 7 days to those reported at 6 weeks and 6 months. Researchers found that reporting complications is higher at the first interview after birth than at either the six-week or six-month interview. The specificity of the majority of complications is high, however sensitivity is generally much lower. As with childbirth, it may be that during the first seven days women note symptoms with higher scrutiny, but if these do not later develop into serious health issues, they may be forgotten over time. Maternal complications and care are likely to be under-reported by women if interviewed for distant events.