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Reports of work-related traumatic events: a mixed-methods study

Fontein-Kuipers, Yvonne; Duivis, Hester; Schamper, Verena; Schmitz, Veerle; Stam, Anouk; Koster, Diana


Hester Duivis

Verena Schamper

Veerle Schmitz

Anouk Stam

Diana Koster


INTRODUCTION There is limited evidence of the effect and impact on midwives of being involved or witnessing traumatic work-related events. We categorised midwives’ selfreported traumatic work-related events and responses to an event and explored the impact on the midwives’ professional and personal life.

METHODS A sequential explanatory mixed-methods study, consisting of a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews for midwives who practised or who had practised in the Netherlands or Flanders.

RESULTS In total, 106 questionnaires were completed. We categorised various workrelated traumatic events: witnessing birth trauma/complications (34%), death (28.3%), (mis)management of care (19.8%), events related to the perceived social norm of maternity services’ practitioners (9.5%), events related to environmental and contextual issues (5.6%) and to (mis)communication (2.8%). Sharing the experience with colleagues, family and friends, a supervisor or the woman involved in the event, was the most common response. In all, 74.5% of the participants still experienced the influence of work-related events in day-to-day practice and 37.5% still experienced the effects in their personal life. The scores of three participants (3.2%) indicated the likelihood of post-traumatic stress. Twenty-four interviews were conducted. Four themes emerged from the content analysis: 1) Timeline, 2) Drawing up the balance of relations with others, 3) Fretting and worrying, and 4) Lessons learned.

CONCLUSIONS Various work-related traumatic events can impact on midwives’ professional and/or personal life. Although not all midwives reported experiencing (lasting) effects of the events, the impact was sometimes far-reaching. Therefore, midwives’ experiences and impact of work-related traumatic events cannot be ignored in midwifery practice, education and in supervision or mentoring.

Journal Article Type Article
Conference Name CARE 4
Acceptance Date Dec 9, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2018
Publication Date 2018-12
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 21, 2022
Journal European Journal of Midwifery
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Keywords midwifery, mixed-methods study, second victim, secondary traumatic stress, work-related traumatic event
Public URL


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