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How can midwives communicate more effectively with women?

Wellbeing of Women has awarded Research Midwife Jayne Wagstaff £20,000 to boost training for midwives

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In England, all pregnant women have the option of a screening test to help identify the chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.

Midwives provide information about this during the first antenatal appointment and support women to make an informed personal decision.

Midwives want to be sure that they are giving women all the information they need to help them make the right decision for them. However, researchers think the way midwives are trained to do this needs improvement.

So, a study led by Wellbeing of Women Research Midwife Jayne Wagstaff is looking to improve this training using a technique called Conversation Analytic Roleplay Method.

This study will explore whether Conversation Analytic Roleplay Method (CARM) could help midwives more effectively support women in their decision-making around antenatal screening.

CARM training involves analysing real-life recordings to understand how conversations lead in particular directions, and helps to identify difficulties and techniques to overcome them.

Mrs Jayne Wagstaff, University of Leeds, will record antenatal appointments to understand how midwives and women talk about antenatal screening tests in real life.

“We think women want to talk about screening tests in different ways and some want more, or different, information than others,” she says.

“The recordings will be studied by researchers to find out what different women want and how midwives can help them.”

CARM has been used in staff training across a range of professions including mediation services, the police, and doctors based within neonatal units.

In a training environment, professionals can observe how real-life encounters unfold and develop and stop to discuss how best to communicate, the possible outcomes and areas for improvement.

The findings of this research could influence training received by all midwives within England and improve communication between midwives and women – making it a better experience for everyone.