Sexual and reproductive health

The sisterhood method for estimating maternal mortality

Guidance notes for potential users

World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research

Front cover

Publication details

Number of pages: 28
Publication date: 1997
Languages: English, French
WHO reference number: WHO/RHT/97.28 - Web only


The sisterhood method is an indirect measurement technique of the kind frequently used for a variety of demographic parameters which has been adapted to maternal mortality. It reduces sample size requirements because it obtains information by interviewing respondents about the survival of all their adult sisters. These guidance notes are intended for health policy-makers and planners who wish to estimate levels of maternal mortality, but who may not be familiar with the different approaches available and the strengths and weaknesses of each. They are not intended to provide detailed technical guidance on how to carry out sisterhood studies.