Community's perceptions of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia in Sindh Pakistan: A qualitative study

Asif Raza Khowaja, Rahat Najam Qureshi, Sana Sheikh, Shujaat Zaidi, Rehana Salam, Diane Sawchuck, Marianne Vidler, Peter Von Dadelszen, Zulfiqar Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Maternal mortality is of global public health concern and >99 % of maternal deaths occur in less developed countries. The common causes of direct maternal death are hemorrhage, sepsis and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. In Pakistan, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia deaths represents one-third of maternal deaths reported at the tertiary care hospital settings. This study explored community perceptions, and traditional management practices about pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. Methods: A qualitative study was conducted in Sindh Province of Pakistan from February to July 2012. Twenty-six focus groups were conducted, 19 with women of reproductive age/mothers-in-law (N = 173); and 7 with husbands/fathers-in-law (N = 65). The data were transcribed verbatim in Sindhi and Urdu, then analyzed for emerging themes and sub-themes using NVivo version 10 software. Results: Pre-eclampsia in pregnancy was not recognized as a disease and there was no name in the local languages to describe this. Women however, knew about high blood pressure and were aware they can develop it during pregnancy. It was widely believed that stress and weakness caused high blood pressure in pregnancy and it caused symptoms of headache. The perception of high blood pressure was not based on measurement but on symptoms. Self-medication was often used for headaches associated with high blood pressure. They were also awareness that severely high blood pressure could result in death. Conclusions: Community-based participatory health education strategies are recommended to dispel myths and misperceptions regarding pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. The educational initiatives should include information on the presentation, progression of illness, danger signs associated with pregnancy, and appropriate treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalReproductive Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2016


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