The influence of midwife communication on women’s understanding of Down syndrome screening information

Sophie John, Maggie Kirk, Emma Tonkin, Ian Stuart-Hamilton

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Abstract

Aims: To analyse how midwives communicate Down syndrome (DS) screening information and explore whether women’s understanding of DS screening information is influenced by midwives’ communicative style.
Methods: Midwives (n=16) and women (n=100) were recruited from a regional National Health Service (NHS) unit in the United Kingdom (UK). A mixed methods design encompassed two components; audio-recorded antenatal consultations to assess midwives communication and quantitative surveys to assess women’s understanding of Down syndrome screening information presented.
Findings: Midwife communication was not significantly related to women’s understanding of DS screening information. However, qualitative thematic analysis revealed midwife communication was often insufficient in fully describing DS and screening. Communication was not very interactive, midwives dominated conversations and did not sufficiently check women’s knowledge/understanding.
Conclusions: Policy makers need to consider these findings with the implementation of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing into midwifery practice and its implications for midwife training. Deficits in midwife communication in relation to established screening practice need to be addressed through additional training ahead of full implementation of NIPT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-779
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
Volume27
Issue number12
Early online date4 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Antenatal care
  • Antenatal screening
  • Down syndrome screening
  • Women's understanding
  • Midwife communication
  • Informed decision-making

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