Midwives, midwifery students and doctors were more concerned about their exposure to COVID-19 while at work than women receiving maternity care in the same settings, a new Curtin University study has revealed.
Researchers also found midwifery students and women’s partners felt most isolated because of the changes to healthcare delivery triggered by the pandemic.
The study set out to investigate the experiences of receiving and providing maternity care in Australia amid the pandemic.
It involved a survey of 3,701 women, their partners, midwives, medical practitioners and midwifery students who received or provided maternity care from March 2020 onwards in Australia.
When comparing experiences, the study found anxiety levels related to COVID-19 were high amongst all five cohorts, yet there were significant differences regarding the types of impact.
Specifically, the study found women were more likely to be concerned about their own and their family’s health and safety in relation to COVID-19, whereas midwives, doctors and midwifery students were more likely to be concerned about occupational exposure to COVID-19 through working in a health setting than those receiving care.
The study also found midwifery students and women’s partners were more likely to respond that they felt isolated because of the changes to the way care was provided. Despite concerns about the care received or provided not meeting expectations, most survey respondents were satisfied with the quality provided; however, midwives and midwifery students were least likely to agree.
The research has produced the first-known evidence of the varied experiences of people involved in receiving and providing maternity care during the pandemic.
Lead author Dr Zoe Bradfield, from the Curtin School of Nursing, said health services rapidly changed in response to COVID-19 and that the study’s findings would help support future changes and redesign forced by the pandemic.
“Pregnant women and new mothers were most concerned about the general threat of COVID to them, their babies and their families but less concerned about exposure to the virus through medical or health settings than the doctors and midwives working in these environments,” Dr Bradfield said.
Dr Bradfield said the study provides a unique exploration and comparison of the experiences of receiving and providing maternity care during the pandemic in Australia.
“The findings of the study will contribute to an understanding of the broader human and social implications of health service redesign as a result of COVID-19.”
The paper, Experiences of receiving and providing maternity care during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Australia: a five-cohort cross-sectional comparison, is available here