Privacy in Maternity Care Environments: Exploring Perspectives of Mothers, Midwives and Student Midwives

Burden, Barbara (2007). Privacy in Maternity Care Environments: Exploring Perspectives of Mothers, Midwives and Student Midwives. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis explores the concept of privacy in maternity care environments through the beliefs and perceptions of mothers (during pregnancy and after birth), student midwives and midwives. The study was designed in response to practice concerns raised by midwives and an increase in professional healthcare documentation, highlighting the need to maintain and enhance the privacy of patients. Literature reviewed showed a sparse understanding of the concept of privacy in relation to healthcare and highlighted disparity between subject disciplines' interpretations of privacy. A grounded theory methodology was used to explore participants' interpretation of privacy in relation to their experiences, thus interpreting it from the perspective of users of the service and healthcare professionals.

Data collection methods included focus groups, interviews, and participant observation. Results show that mothers do have several areas of concern about privacy and base their perceptions of privacy on their ability to retain credibility as a mother when in the company of others and are linked to their perception of 'loss of face', whereas midwives consider mothers' privacy in relation to their perception of the environment as a place of employment Students' perceptions of privacy were based on their own prior personal experiences and their knowledge as soon-to-be midwives, seeing themselves as a voice for both mothers and midwives. Recommendations for practice are provided and a new practice based tool is designed with a view to helping midwives determine and address the privacy needs of mothers. The research concludes with recommendations for those involved in the provision and development of care for mothers and for subsequent research.

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