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A mixed-methods stress audit with midwives in the United Kingdom

Anchors, Zoe; Moore, Lee; Burnard, Sara; Bressington, Catherine; Moreton, Anne; Arnold, Rachel


Zoe Anchors

Lee Moore

Sara Burnard

Catherine Bressington

Anne Moreton

Rachel Arnold


Problem. UK midwives report high work-related stress, which can negatively impact their health and wellbeing, with many considering leaving the profession.
Background. An occupational stress audit guides the implementation of stress management intervention, by identifying which stressors have the most negative impact and why, and highlighting “at risk” groups.
Aim. To conduct a concurrent mixed-methods stress audit with UK midwives in an NHS Trust.
Methods. Seventy-one midwives (Mage = 39 years, SD = 11) completed a survey assessing stressors (e.g., relationships), stress appraisals (i.e., challenge vs. threat), coping strategies (e.g., avoidance-focused), and outcomes (i.e., mental health, performance, and intention to leave). Ten midwives (Mage = 42 years, SD = 10) participated in semi-structured interviews.
Findings. Quantitative data revealed that more work-related demands, poorer peer support and relationships, and threat appraisals predicted worse mental health. Moreover, less control and more work-related demands predicted poorer performance, while less control, poorer manager support, more change-related demands, and threat appraisals predicted greater intention to leave. Qualitative data generated three themes: organisational pressures exacerbated by unexpected changes; individualised responses but largely debilitative emotions; and personal coping and power of social support.
Discussion and Conclusion. This study offered a comprehensive and novel insight into the stress experiences of UK midwives, highlighting targets for future stress management interventions, including key stressors (e.g., manager support), underlying mechanisms (e.g., stress appraisals), and “at-risk” groups (e.g., night shift workers). Practical recommendations are provided for stakeholders operating at multiple levels (e.g., midwife, trust, policy) to better support midwives with work-related stress.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 24, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 24, 2024
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL