A descriptive study of Western Australian (WA) rural and urban midwives perceptions of competence and continuing competence: a background study

Halyna Godwin

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This thesis describes Western Australian (WA) midwives' perceptions of competence and continuing competence and contrasts these perceptions for midwives practicing in rural and low risk urban settings. There is limited research examining the competence of Australian midwives as practitioners especially in Western Australia. Dispersal of health service providers is uneven throughout this geographically isolated State. Budget constraints, staffing issues and distance could mean rural midwives may find it difficult to attend appropriate education programs required for registration and relevant to their needs, unlike their counterparts in urban facilities. Rural midwives are generalist nurse-midwives who practise in small, low risk and sometimes isolated maternity centres. The transfer of high-risk women to a tertiary centre minimises their exposure to complex maternity care, thereby reducing competency in specific complex skills and limiting experiential learning. In contrast, urban centres have on-site specialist personnel who are able to support midwives with emergency skills. Medical technology potentially available in urban hospitals may have led to de-skilling of midwives. Methods: This study used descriptive research and a mixed method approach to provide information on the characteristics of WA rural and urban midwives and compared urban and rural midwives’ perceptions of competence and continuing competence. A questionnaire gathered the information from the participants. The response rate from the urban midwives was 28% (n=66) and rural 32% (n= 63). The questionnaire was adapted from a study conducted for the National Health Service, Scotland and modified to suit the Australian setting. Data were organised into a Microsoft Excel® spread sheet and analyses were conducted using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Content analysis was used to analyse the responses to open-ended questions...
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011


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