Perceptions of health professionals regarding minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) to identify the cause of death in stillbirths and neonates: Results from a qualitative study

Anam Shahil Feroz, Anum Shiraz Ali, Mohsina Noor Ibrahim, Elizabeth M. McClure, Shiyam Sunder Tikmani, Sayyeda Reza, Zahid Abbasi, Afia Zafar, Sameen Siddiqi, Sarah Saleem

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Background: Pakistan is considered to be one of the riskiest places in the world for childbirth as measured by its high stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates. Complete diagnostic autopsy remains the gold standard to determine the cause of death (CoD); however, it is not routinely implemented due to religious objections, sociocultural beliefs, limited resources and low demand from physicians and families. Recently, minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) using needle biopsies of multiple tissues to obtain tissue for histological examination and organism identification with PCR has been developed and promoted to determine CoD in low-resource areas. To ensure successful implementation of MITS, it is important to understand health professionals' attitudes and perceptions related to MITS.Methods: A qualitative study was conducted at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), Karachi, Pakistan. Focus group discussions (FGDs) and Key-informant interviews (KIIs) were conducted with health professionals including doctors, nurses, trainees, clinicians, bioethics experts and public health experts to explore their perceptions and views on acceptability of MITS. Data were analyzed using NVivo 10 software.Results: A total of 12 interviews (FGDs = 4; KIIs = 8) were conducted. Four overarching themes were identified: (I) acceptability of MITS; (II) perceived benefits of the MITS procedure; (III) factors facilitating the implementation of MITS; and (IV) health system requirements for implementing the MITS procedure. Generally, MITS was considered as a positive development for the health system. Diagnostic accuracy and identification of less common causes of death were highlighted as two main benefits of the MITS procedure. The study highlighted a number of facilitators for the acceptability of MITS including effective counseling, building trust with parents, fast procedure time, and approaching families within a few hours of death. In addition, lack of skilled staff, poorly equipped healthcare facilities and the potential high cost to conduct MITS were identified as challenges for the implementation of MITS.Conclusions: This formative research provided a unique opportunity to explore health professionals' views and attitudes towards the MITS procedure. Such insights are crucial to ensure successful implementation and integration of a new technique into the existing health system. The research identified the factors influencing the acceptability of MITS among health professionals in Pakistan. The study also informed factors that could help facilitate the implementation of the MITS procedures in the context of Pakistan and similar settings.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalCommunity Health Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2019

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