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AIMS: To assess the knowledge of nurses of national guidelines for emergency maternity, routine newborn and small and sick newborn care in Nairobi County, Kenya. BACKGROUND: The vast majority of women deliver in a health facility in Nairobi. Yet, maternal and neonatal mortality remain high. Ensuring competency of health workers, in providing essential maternal and newborn interventions in health facilities will be key if further progress is to be made in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in low-resource settings. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. METHODS: Questionnaires comprised of clinical vignettes and direct questions and were administered in 2015-2016 to nurses (n = 125 in 31 facilities) on duty in maternity and newborn units in public and private facilities providing 24/7 inpatient neonatal services. Composite knowledge scores were calculated and presented as weighted means. Associations were explored using regression. STROBE guidelines were followed. RESULTS: Nurses scored best for knowledge on active management of the mother after birth and immediate routine newborn care. Performance was worst for questions on infant resuscitation, checking signs and symptoms of sick newborns, and managing hypertension in pregnancy. Overall knowledge of care for sick newborns was particularly low (score 0.62 of 1). Across all areas assessed, nurses who had received training since qualifying performed better than those who had not. Poorly resourced and low case-load facilities had lower average knowledge scores compared with better-resourced and busier facilities. CONCLUSION: Overall, we estimate that 31% of maternity patients, 3% of newborns and 39% of small and sick newborns are being cared for in an environment where nursing knowledge is very low (score <0.6). RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Focus on periodic training, ensuring retention of knowledge and skills among health workers in low-case load setting, and bridging the know-do gap may help to improve the quality of care delivered to mothers and newborns in Kenya.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Nurs

Publication Date





882 - 893


Africa, Kenya, Newborn care, emergency obstetric and neonatal care, health facilities, maternal care, midwifery, neonatal care, neonatal nursing, nursing knowledge, Adult, Clinical Competence, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Guideline Adherence, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Newborn, Diseases, Kenya, Maternal-Child Health Services, Nursing Staff, Pregnancy, Surveys and Questionnaires, Urban Population