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When your dream job can become a nightmare: reports of work-related traumatic events

Kuipers, Yvonne



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.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Vormingsdag VBOV
Start Date Mar 26, 2022
End Date Mar 26, 2022
Deposit Date May 20, 2022
Keywords secondary trauma, work-related traumatic event, midwifery
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