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Reflections on Identity: Narratives of Obstetric Fistula Survivors in North Central Nigeria

Degge, Hannah M.; Laurenson, Mary; Dumbili, Emeka W.; Hayter, Mark


Hannah M. Degge

Mary Laurenson

Emeka W. Dumbili

Mark Hayter


Obstetric fistula is a condition that affects women and can lead to identity changes because of uncontrolled urinary and/or fecal incontinence symptom experiences. These symptoms along with different emerging identities lead to family and community displacement. Using narrative inquiry methodology that concentrates on the stories individuals tell about themselves; interviews were conducted for 15 fistula survivors to explore their perception of identities of living with obstetric fistula. Within a sociocultural context, these identities consist of the “leaking” identity, “masu yoyon fitsari” (leakers of urine) identity, and the “spoiled” identity, causing stigmatization and psychological trauma. The “masu yoyon fitsari” identity, however, built hope and resilience for a sustained search for a cure. Identity is a socially constructed phenomenon, and the findings reveal positive community involvement which reduces obstetric fistula stigmatization and improves women’s identity. Sexual and reproductive health issues remain of grave concern within a contextualized societal identity of women’s role.


Degge, H. M., Laurenson, M., Dumbili, E. W., & Hayter, M. (2020). Reflections on Identity: Narratives of Obstetric Fistula Survivors in North Central Nigeria. Qualitative Health Research, 30(3), 366-379.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 25, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 3, 2019
Publication Date Feb 1, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 4, 2019
Journal Qualitative Health Research
Print ISSN 1049-7323
Electronic ISSN 1552-7557
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 3
Pages 366-379
Keywords Public Health; Environmental and Occupational Health; obstetric fistula; Nigeria; social identity; stigmatization; psychological trauma; resilience;narrative inquiry method; qualitative; Sub-Saharan Africa
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