Policy, service, and training provision for women following a traumatic birth: an international knowledge mapping exercise

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Abstract

Background: High numbers of women experience a traumatic birth, which can lead to childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder (CB-PTSD) onset, and negative and pervasive impacts for women, infants, and families. Policies, suitable service provision, and training are needed to identify and treat psychological morbidity following a traumatic birth experience, but currently there is little insight into whether and what is provided in different contexts. The aim of this knowledge mapping exercise was to map policy, service and training provision for women following a traumatic birth experience in different European countries. Methods: A survey was distributed as part of the COST Action “Perinatal mental health and birth-related trauma: Maximizing best practice and optimal outcomes”. Questions were designed to capture country level data; care provision (i.e., national policies or guidelines for the screening, treatment and/or prevention of a traumatic birth, service provision), and nationally mandated pre-registration and post-registration training for maternity professionals. Results: Eighteen countries participated. Only one country (the Netherlands) had national policies regarding the screening, treatment, and prevention of a traumatic birth experience/CB-PTSD. Service provision was provided formally in six countries (33%), and informally in the majority (78%). In almost all countries (89%), women could be referred to specialist perinatal or mental health services. Services tended to be provided by midwives, although some multidisciplinary practice was apparent. Seven (39%) of the countries offered ‘a few hours’ professional/pre-registration training, but none offered nationally mandated post-registration training. Conclusions: A traumatic birth experience is a key public health concern. Evidence highlights important gaps regarding formalized care provision and training for care providers.

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Thomson, G., Diop, M. Q., Stuijfzand, S., Horsch, A., Lalor, J. G., de Abreu, W., … Węgrzynowska, M. (2021). Policy, service, and training provision for women following a traumatic birth: an international knowledge mapping exercise. BMC Health Services Research, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-021-07238-x

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