Background Accountability for mistreatment during facility-based childbirth requires valid tools to measure and compare birth experiences. We analyse the WHO ‘How women are treated during facility-based childbirth’ community survey to test whether items mapping the typology of mistreatment function as scales and to create brief item sets to capture mistreatment by domain.

Methods The cross-sectional community survey was conducted at up to 8 weeks post partum among women giving birth at hospitals in Ghana, Guinea, Myanmar and Nigeria. The survey contained items assessing physical abuse, verbal abuse, stigma, failure to meet professional standards, poor rapport with healthcare workers, and health system conditions and constraints. For all domains except stigma, we applied item-response theory to assess item fit and correlation within domain. We tested shortened sets of survey items for sensitivity in detecting mistreatment by domain. Where items show concordance and scale reliability ≥0.60, we assessed convergent validity with dissatisfaction with care and agreement of scale scores between brief and full versions.