Bangladesh Midlife Women's Health Study (BMWHS): methods, challenges and experiences

Mohammad Rakibul Islam, Robin Jean Bell, Mohammad Belial Hossain, Susan Ruth Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives To understand the challenges and experiences encountered during data collection for Bangladesh Midlife Women s Health Study (BMWHS) that investigated the low uptake of cervical cancer (CCa) screening barriers, understanding of breast cancer (BCa) knowledge and practices, the prevalence of urinary and fecal incontinence and menopausal symptoms. Methods A multistage cluster sampling technique was used to recruit women from the 32 districts of Bangladesh that had offered CCa screening. Female interviewers were trained to undertake structured face-to-face interviews that incorporated both non-validated and several validated questionnaires, such as Question for Urinary Incontinence Diagnosis, Pelvic Organ Prolapse Distress Inventory, Colorectal-Anal Distress Inventory and Menopause-Specific Quality of Life. Results We completed surveys of 1590 women, estimated age 30?59 years, between September 2013 and March 2014. We implemented several strategies to deal with low literacy and used the temporal relationship between marriage and childbirth, and the average age of onset of menarche, to estimate age. Cultural and religious sensitivities and personal security were managed by engaging community leaders, limiting activities to daylight hours, adopting local codes of dress, such as the wearing of head scarves. Our major challenges and experiences included difficulties in age determination, selection of and access to households, interview privacy, lack of basic and health literacy, transportation, political unrest and security of the interviewers. Conclusion By anticipating challenges, we have been able to comprehensively survey a representative sample of Bangladeshi women. Disseminating information about the field challenges and experiences from the BMWHS should assist other researchers planning to conduct surveys about women s health issues in similar context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89 - 94
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this