The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12978-017-0306-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a traditional harmful practice that can cause severe physical and psychological damages to girls and women. Increasingly, trained health-care providers carry out the practice at the request of families. It is important to understand the motivations of providers in order to reduce the medicalization of FGM. This integrative review identifies, appraises and summarizes qualitative and quantitative literature exploring the factors that are associated with the medicalization of FGM and/or re-infibulation.
Literature searches were conducted in PubMed, CINAHL and grey literature databases. Hand searches of identified studies were also examined. The “CASP Qualitative Research Checklist” and the “STROBE Statement” were used to assess the methodological quality of the qualitative and quantitative studies respectively. A total of 354 articles were reviewed for inclusion.
Fourteen (14) studies, conducted in countries where FGM is largely practiced as well as in countries hosting migrants from these regions, were included. The main findings about the motivations of health-care providers to practice FGM were: (1) the belief that performing FGM would be less harmful for girls or women than the procedure being performed by a traditional practitioner (the so-called “harm reduction” perspective); (2) the belief that the practice was justified for cultural reasons; (3) the financial gains of performing the procedure; (4) responding to requests of the community or feeling pressured by the community to perform FGM. The main reasons given by health-care providers for not performing FGM were that they (1) are concerned about the risks that FGM can cause for girls’ and women’s health; (2) are preoccupied by the legal sanctions that might result from performing FGM; and (3) consider FGM to be a “bad practice”.
The findings of this review can inform public health program planners, policy makers and researchers to adapt or create strategies to end medicalization of FGM in countries with high prevalence of this practice, as well as in countries hosting immigrants from these regions. Given the methodological limitations in the included studies, it is clear that more robust in-depth qualitative studies are needed, in order to better tackle the complexity of this phenomenon and contribute to eradicating FGM throughout the world.
Additional file 1: Search Strategy. (DOCX 78 kb)12978_2017_306_MOESM1_ESM.docx
Additional file 2: Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Qualitative Research Checklist – modified. (DOCX 133 kb)12978_2017_306_MOESM2_ESM.docx
Additional file 3: STROBE (Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology) Statement – modified: Survey Design Quality Assessment Checklist. (DOC 96 kb)12978_2017_306_MOESM3_ESM.doc
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