The GEM study: Games for educating midwives in Sub-Saharan Africa



  • The primary aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that implementation of partograph games improves midwives skills in completing a partograph.
  • A secondary aim is to determine whether implementation of partograph games improves decision-making in the clinical environment.
  • A further aim is to develop a new, complementary game, aimed at prevention and management of the main causes of maternal mortality (game 3).


Pre and post-test design with embedded qualitative work. The research draws on Kirtpatrick’s four level model as a basis for the evaluation of the games.


It has been acknowledged that prolonged and obstructed labour is a major cause of maternal death and morbidity across much of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 women still develop obstetric fistulae as a result of prolonged or obstructed labour each year and that around two million women are currently living with this disorder. Prolonged and obstructed labour and the devastating consequences that can ensue are largely preventable. The partograph is designed to facilitate timely intervention during labour. By providing a graphical representation of the progress of labour along with records of the maternal and fetal conditions it can alert professionals to deviations from normal and prompt action which can save the lives and protect the health of both mother and baby. Using the partograph can be challenging in practice and so there is a need to motivate and assist midwives to use this tool effectively.

In recent years game-based learning has been used extensively in the health sector. It has been claimed that this approach ‘can promote the acquisition and broadening of knowledge, skills and competence in an interactive and entertaining environment’. Students have been motivated and encouraged to learn in a non-threatening environment. In various types of medical and nursing education, games allow learners to make mistakes and learn from them without endangering lives.


Professor Dame Tina Lavender (PI), Dr Rose Laisser, Professor Angela Chimwaza, Professor Linda McGowan, Professor Grace Omoni, Dr Gaynor Maclean

Funding body: The Laerdal Foudation (Norway)

Contact: Professor Linda McGowan