Soc Sci Med. 2009 Mar;68(5):971-9. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.12.006. Epub 2009 Jan 6.
Incontinence and trauma: sexual violence, female genital cutting and proxy measures of gynecological fistula.
Peterman A, Johnson K.
University of North Carolina, Department of Public Policy, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3435, USA. email@example.com
Obstetric fistula, characterized by urinary or fecal incontinence via the vagina, has begun to receive attention on the international public health agenda, however less attention has been given to traumatic fistula. Field reports indicate that trauma contributes to the burden of vaginal fistula, especially in regions wrought by civil unrest, however evidence is largely anecdotal or facility-based. This paper specifically examines the co-occurrence of incontinence and two potential sources of trauma: sexual violence and female genital cutting using the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys in Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia. Multivariate selection models are used to control for sampling differences by country. Results indicate that sexual violence is a significant determinant of incontinence in Rwanda and Malawi, however not in Uganda. Simulations predict that elimination of sexual violence would result in from a 7 to a 40% reduction of the total burden of incontinence. In contrast, no evidence is found that female genital cutting contributes to incontinence and this finding is robust for types of cutting and high risk samples. Results point to the importance of reinforcing prevention programs which seek to address prevention of sexual violence and for the integration of services to better serve women experiencing both sexual violence and incontinence.