Promoting respectful maternity care for adolescents in Ghana: A quasi-experimental study protocol

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Background: Intra-partum mistreatment by healthcare providers remains a global public health and human rights challenge. Adolescents, who are typically younger, poorer and less educated have been found to be disproportionately exposed to intra-partum mistreatment. In Ghana, maternal mortality remains a leading cause of death among adolescent females, despite increasing patronage of skilled birth attendance in health facilities. In response to the the World Health Organisation Human Reproduction Programme (WHO-HRP) recommendations to address mistreatment with Respectful Maternity Care (RMC), this study aims to generate evidence on promoting respectful treatment of adolescents using an intervention that trains health providers on the concept of mistreatment, their professional roles in RMC and the rights of adolescents to RMC. Methods: This study will employ a pre-test post-test quasi-experimental design. At pre-test and post-test, quantitative surveys will be conducted among adolescents who deliver at health facilities about their labour experience with mistreatment and RMC. A total target of 392 participants will be recruited across intervention and control facilities. Qualitative interviews will also be conducted with selected adolescents and health professionals for an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon. Following the pre-test, a facility-based training module will be implemented at intervention facilities for the facility midwives. The modules will be co-facilitated by the principal investigator and key resource persons from the district health directorate Quality of Care teams. Training will cover the rights of adolescents to quality healthcare, classifications of mistreatment, RMC as a concept and the role of professionals in providing RMC. No intervention will occur in the control facilities. Descriptive statistics, logistic regressions and difference in differences analyses will be computed. Qualitative data will be transcribed and thematically analysed. Discussion: This study is designed to test the success of an intervention in promoting RMC and reducing intra-partum mistreatment towards adolescents. It is expected that the findings of this study will be beneficial in adding to the body of knowledge in improving maternal healthcare and reducing maternal mortality, especially for adolescents.