Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Dr. Jeanne Connors


Vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) is a maternal health problem faced by women in developing countries. VVF is one of the most devastating consequences of prolonged obstructed labor and is still prevalent in resource-poor countries like Nigeria where fertility is high, the status of women is low, and obstetric services are often inadequate. The objective of this study was to enrich our understanding of the effects of VVF as it relates to women’s experiences in southeastern Nigeria. I adopted the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping in this study; this theory posits that people, when contending with any kind of stressors, are disposed to adopt either a problem-focused or emotion-focused coping style. Information on women suffering from VVF is important as it can inform the design and delivery of programs and interventions to address the challenges this population faces. I conducted in-depth interviews with 20 women at the National Fistula Centre in Abakaliki, Nigeria. I coded the data and generated themes from codes. Spousal support was a primary theme; the participants reported receiving varying levels of spousal support from their partners. They also faced multiple challenges, such as abandonment, emotional distress, and job loss. The findings from this study can create positive social change to increase spousal support for women coping with VVF. However, degraded spousal support may have considerable effects on such women’s self-image and their wellbeing. Women who feel supported by their partners may experience less stigma and may have a greater willingness to acknowledge this childbirth injury. Providing women with VVF with support can help ensure their physical and emotional comfort and improve their lives as well as the lives of their families and the entire community.