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Midwives perspectives of their training and education requirements in maternal obesity: a qualitative study
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Dr Nicola Heslehurst
Dr Ruth Bell
Professor Judith Rankin
Heslehurst N, Russell S, McCormack S, Sedgewick G, Bell R, Rankin J
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Objective: to explore midwives' perceptions of their training and education requirements in relation to maternal obesity. Design: an interpretive constructionist approach used focus groups and broad discussion topics to allow midwives to identify their own personal and professional needs. Data analysis incorporated researcher and data triangulation (transcripts, debrief notes, and observers' notes), using a thematic content analysis approach. Setting and participants: participants included 46 community and hospital-based midwives from all NHS Trusts providing maternity services in Northeast England, UK. Eleven focus groups took place in midwives' place of work. Sampling was determined by data saturation. Findings: three main themes were identified: discussing obesity, weight management, and practicalities of training. Midwives' justification for the need for training was centrally connected to all themes, and there were strong views on the need for training and education, and the potential benefits to their practice. Issues relating to obesity communication were most prominent. Midwives' uncertainty about effective obesity communication and management, and concerns of a negative impact on the midwife–woman relationship, are key barriers to their practice. Key conclusions and implications for practice: the provision of a systematic approach to training and education is endorsed by midwives, and would provide the required level of knowledge and skills to deliver the recommended standard of care appropriate to their practice. It is clear that midwives require both training and education, although there are challenges to midwives' engagement with effective continuous professional development largely outside their control. Realistic models of training and education are required to address midwives' needs, and these should be thoroughly evaluated for impact on midwifery practice, and on obese women's health and well-being.
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