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School of Health Sciences

Understanding Care Processes and relationship with care environment within midwife-led or obstetric-led birth settings


1st supervisor: Christine McCourt

2nd supervisor: Lucia Rocca

Research Centre

Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research

Project description

This project will build on our programme of research on understanding of organisational and workforce factors underpinning the implementation of the evidence on midwifery units. This doctoral project will link with an established programme of research on place of birth and midwife-led care in the Models of Care research group with the Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research.

Our earlier research identified that midwifery unit care is safe for neonates, cost effective, safer for mothers and associated with staff and user satisfaction. This is now backed by NICE 2014 guidance on intrapartum care and our current research is focused on supporting implementation at service level and information and choice for women so that the proportion of eligible women planning birth in midwifery-led settings increases. There will be a number of challenges and questions as midwife-led birth settings are scaled up in the UK. There is still limited evidence on how midwife-led birth settings achieve their good outcomes while reducing interventions and our current work is also exploring this issue. With scaling up of midwife-led birth settings, there are also potential beneficial or negative consequences for obstetric unit care and the aim of optimum birth for all women means that greater understanding of who care processes in obstetric units could be changed, to be more congruent with those in midwife units would be valuable.

The proposed PhD project should focus in depth on a project relevant to this issue, relating to one or more of the following questions:

  1. How can midwives’ skills and confidence in supporting physiological labour and birth as developed and practiced within midwifery-led settings be applied to care in obstetric units?
  2. What is the relationship between environment and care practices in different birth settings?
  3. What approaches are effective in terms of integrating care across different birth settings?

Recommended Skills / Prior Learning

  1. Masters qualification in midwifery, social science or other relevant subject
  2. Prior research experience relevant to the study topic
  3. Knowledge of social theory and its application to healthcare