Evaluating consistency of recall of maternal and newborn care complications and intervention coverage using PMA panel data in SNNPR, Ethiopia

Linnea A. Zimmerman, Solomon Shiferaw, Assefa Seme, Yuanyuan Yi, John Grove, Claire Helene Mershon, Saifuddin Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background There is recognition that effective interventions are available to prevent neonatal and maternal deaths but providing reliable and valid coverage estimates remains a challenge. Household surveys rely on recall of self-reported events that may span up to 5 years, raising concerns of recall bias. Objective 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. Methodology 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. We compared responses given at 7 days to those reported at 6 weeks and 6 months and conducted sensitivity, specificity, area under receiving operative curve, and Kappa analyses of selected indicators. Results We find 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. The sensitivity of reporting any complication during pregnancy, delivery, or post-partum ranged from 54.5% to 67.6% at the 6-week interview and from 39.2% to 63.2% at the 6-month interview. Though sensitivity of receipt of neonatal interventions was high, specificity and kappa demonstrate low consistency. Conclusion 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0216612
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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