The knowledge versus self-rated confidence of facility birth attendants with respect to maternal and newborn health skills: the experience of Nigerian primary healthcare facilities
Competent and skilled birth attendants are critical in the reduction of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality at delivery. This study aimed to determine the association between knowledge and self-rated confidence in facility birth attendants affiliated with maternal and neonatal health (MNH) interventions.
A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in 24 primary healthcare facilities in Osun state, Nigeria among 128 consenting facility birth attendants who were selected via a multi-stage sampling technique. Each attendant received a semi-structured interviewer-administered questionnaire. The dependent variables included the respondent’s level of knowledge in MNH interventions and their self-rated confidence in MNH skills such as the provision of antenatal care service, normal labour, use of a partograph and the management of obstetric complications and post-partum haemorrhage. Bivariate analysis of factors associated with knowledge and self-rated confidence in MNH skills was performed with statistical significance set at p<0.05.
Only 48 (37.5%) of the respondents had good knowledge of all of the assessed interventions; worse performances were reported with regards to the respondent’s knowledge of normal labour and partograph use. However, 96 (75%) of respondents were confident in performing 75% of the skills assessed. Our analysis identified two factors that were significantly associated with a good knowledge of MNH skills: the cadre of the birth attendants (p<0.001) and training in life-saving skills (p=0.001). The knowledge of our respondents relating to most of the MNH interventions assessed was not significantly associated with their self-rated confidence in the required skills.
The confidence of facility birth attendants in MNH skills was not knowledge-based and could frustrate national efforts to reduce maternal and perinatal deaths. We recommend effective and evidence-based training of all cadres of facility birth attendants to ensure that the skills being practiced clinically are based on adequate knowledge.