The experience and impact of traumatic perinatal event experiences in midwives: a qualitative investigation

Sheen, Kayleigh, Spiby, Helen and Slade, Pauline (2015) The experience and impact of traumatic perinatal event experiences in midwives: a qualitative investigation. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 53 61-72. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2015.10.003

Author Sheen, Kayleigh
Spiby, Helen
Slade, Pauline
Title The experience and impact of traumatic perinatal event experiences in midwives: a qualitative investigation
Journal name International Journal of Nursing Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0020-7489
Publication date 2015-10-22
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2015.10.003
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 53
Start page 61
End page 72
Total pages 12
Place of publication Bromley, United Kingdom
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Through their work midwives may experience distressing events that fulfil criteria for trauma. However, there is a paucity of research examining the impact of these events, or what is perceived to be helpful/unhelpful by midwives afterwards.

Objective: To investigate midwives’ experiences of traumatic perinatal events and to provide insights into experiences and responses reported by midwives with and without subsequent posttraumatic stress symptoms.

Design: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of midwives following participation in a previous postal survey.

Methods: 35 midwives who had all experienced a traumatic perinatal event defined using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (version IV) Criterion A for posttraumatic stress disorder were interviewed. Two groups of midwives with high or low distress (as reported during the postal survey) were purposefully recruited. High distress was defined as the presence of clinical levels of PTSD symptomatology and high perceived impairment in terms of impacts on daily life. Low distress was defined as any symptoms of PTSD present were below clinical threshold and low perceived life impairment. Interviews were analysed using template analysis, an iterative process of organising and coding qualitative data chosen for this study for its flexibility. An initial template of four a priori codes was used to structure the analysis: event characteristics, perceived responses and impacts, supportive and helpful strategies and reflection of change over time codes were amended, integrated and collapsed as appropriate through the process of analysis. A final template of themes from each group is presented together with differences outlined where applicable.

Results: Event characteristics were similar between groups, and involved severe, unexpected episodes contributing to feeling ‘out of a comfort zone.’ Emotional upset, self-blame and feelings of vulnerability to investigative procedures were reported. High distress midwives were more likely to report being personally upset by events and to perceive all aspects of personal and professional lives to be affected. Both groups valued talking about the event with peers, but perceived support from senior colleagues and supervisors to be either absent or inappropriate following their experience; however, those with high distress were more likely to endorse this view and report a perceived need to seek external input.

Conclusion: Findings indicate a need to consider effective ways of promoting and facilitating access to support, at both a personal and organisational level, for midwives following the experience of a traumatic perinatal event.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 26 Nov 2015, 19:42:53 EST by Vicki Percival on behalf of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work