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Exploring the views of female genital mutilation survivors, their male partners and healthcare professionals on the timing of deinfibulation surgery and NHS FGM care provision (the FGM Sister Study): protocol for a qualitative study
  1. Laura Jones1,
  2. Emma Danks1,
  3. Joanne Clarke1,
  4. Lailah Alidu2,
  5. Benjamin Costello1,
  6. Kate Jolly1,
  7. Alison Byrne3,
  8. Meg Fassam-Wright4,
  9. Pallavi Latthe5,6,
  10. Julie Taylor5,7
  1. 1 Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK
  3. 3 University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  4. 4 National FGM Centre, Barnardo's, Ilford, Essex, UK
  5. 5 Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  6. 6 Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  7. 7 School of Nursing, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura Jones; L.L.Jones{at}


Introduction Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a significant global health concern and is likely to become an increasingly important healthcare challenge in destination countries such as the UK owing to rising levels of migration from FGM-affected countries. Currently, there is no consensus on the optimal timing of deinfibulation (opening) surgery for women who have experienced type 3 FGM and care provision remains suboptimal in the UK. This qualitative study aims to explore the views of survivors, male partners and healthcare professionals (HCPs) on the timing of deinfibulation and delivery of NHS FGM services.

Methods and analysis A qualitative study, informed by the Sound of Silence conceptual framework, will be undertaken via two work packages (WPs). WP1 will explore views on timing preferences for deinfibulation and NHS FGM services through interviews and discussion groups with FGM survivors (n~50), male partners (n~10) and HCPs (n~50). WP2 will use established techniques via two workshops (community (n~20–25 participants) and national stakeholder (n~30–35 participants)) to synthesise qualitative research findings and inform best practice and policy recommendations around the timing of deinfibulation and NHS FGM care provision. Supported by trained interpreters, data collection will be audio recorded and transcribed. Data will be analysed using the framework method to facilitate a systematic mapping and exploration of qualitative data from multiple sources.

Ethics and dissemination The study has received ethical approval from the North West Greater Manchester East Research Ethics Committee (18/NW/0498). The outputs for this study will be recommendations for best practice and policy around FGM care provision that reflects the views and preferences of key stakeholders. The findings will be disseminated via conference presentations, peer-reviewed publications, patient groups, third sector organisations and social media.

Trial registration number ISRCTN14710507.

  • qualitative research
  • maternal medicine
  • gynaecology
  • public health
  • reproductive medicine

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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  • Twitter @drlauraljones, @FGMSisterStudy

  • Contributors LJ, ED, KJ, AB, MF-W, PL and JT were involved in the design of the study. LJ wrote the full study protocol. LA and JC drafted the initial manuscript. BC drafted the data collection and analysis sections and created online supplementary file 4. All authors provided critical review of the manuscript and have approved the final version.

  • Funding This study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (project reference 16/78/04). KJ is part-funded by NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study has received a favourable opinion from the North West—Greater Manchester East Research Ethics Committee (18/NW/0498) and approval from the Health Research Authority. Voluntary informed consent to participate and be audio-recorded will be gained from all participants.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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