Healthcare professionals’ knowledge, attitudes, and experiences of FGM in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic scoping review




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Peer reviewed



Background: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) remains a challenge as evidence indicates that healthcare professionals (HCPs) who are required to play a role in the elimination of FGM, support the practice. The reasons some HCPs in Sub Saharan Africa still perpetuate FGM is unclear. Thus, this review aims to provide an overview of the existing evidence surrounding HCPs knowledge, attitudes, and experiences of FGM in order to determine the factors that may influence support for the continuation of FGM. Methods: A search was conducted utilising six databases (CINHAL, PubMed, Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and ASSIA) and using key terms such as female genital mutilation, FGM, knowledge, attitudes, experiences, practices, and healthcare professionals. At the end of the search, 12 studies were identified. The 12 studies were situated in sub-Saharan African countries (SSA) and they examined HCPs knowledge, attitudes, and experiences of FGM. Findings: This review revealed three overarching themes: (1) Knowledge of FGM (2) attitudes towards the practice of FGM and (3) experiences of FGM. The review revealed that HCPs have limited knowledge of FGM and its health implications. Furthermore, some HCPs openly disapprove the practice of FGM, but may undermine abandonment messages and perform FGM in secret due to cultural affiliations and financial rewards. This is indicative of HCPs moving towards medicalising FGM by upholding cultural beliefs and practices rather than adhering to professional policies, codes of conducts and the legal position. This review identifies determinants for the preservation of FGM among some HCPs in SSA countries to include pervading cultural beliefs, poor design of professional trainings in the field of FGM and limited knowledge by HCPs.


Open access article


female genital mutilation, women, Nigeria, healthcare professionals, review


Ejiroghene ogigbah Adogho, A., Hinsliff-Smith, K., McGarry, J. (2020) Healthcare professionals’ knowledge, attitudes, and experiences of FGM in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic scoping review, International Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences, 100270.


Research Institute

Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care