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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