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Maternity support workers’ experiences of work-place trauma and post-traumatic stress symptoms

Slade, P, Smart, C, Krahé, C and Spiby, H (2024) Maternity support workers’ experiences of work-place trauma and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Midwifery, 136. ISSN 0266-6138

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Background Maternity support workers (MSWs) are now a key part of the maternity workforce. They work in environments with potential exposure to traumatic events, but little is known about their rates of exposure or psychological responses. Objectives We aimed to identify the proportion of MSWs reporting exposure to a traumatic work event and consequential rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We also aimed to identify factors associated with PTSD and to describe levels of burnout, empathy, and functional impairment, and to explore their potential associations with PTSD symptoms. Methods MSWs were recruited via the Royal College of Midwives newsletter, which is sent to all MSW members, and via social media on the College MSW Facebook page. Participants completed an online survey. They provided information on demographic details, job role, and exposure to traumatic events, and completed questionnaires covering PTSD symptoms related to work events, related functional impairment, burnout, and empathy. Data were analysed via correlations and multiple regression. Findings Of 98 respondents, 88 had been exposed to a traumatic work event; 79 of these through being present and nine through hearing about traumatic events. Of those exposed, 14.8% (n = 13) participants had probable PTSD, while a further 5.7 % (n = 5) met the subclinical threshold. Over a third (35.2 %) of the sample showed high levels of emotional exhaustion, a key feature of burnout, and 27.3 % reported functional work impairment. PTSD symptoms were associated with younger age, higher empathic concern, and direct exposure to traumatic perinatal events. Conclusions and clinical implications MSWs are routinely exposed to traumatic events at work and are at risk of work-related PTSD. Younger and more empathic staff appear more at risk, although our methods could not distinguish cause and effect. It must also be noted that the survey took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and findings could be influenced by this context. MSWs need to be routinely included in programmes to support staff in relation to trauma exposure at work.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1110 Nursing; 1114 Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine; 1117 Public Health and Health Services; Nursing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2024 09:13
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2024 09:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.midw.2024.104071
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23712
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