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Midwives' Experiences of Work-Related Shoulder Musculoskeletal Problems

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INTRODUCTION: Little is known about musculoskeletal disorders in midwives as distinct from nurses. The study objective was to gain an understanding of midwives' experiences with work-related shoulder problems.

METHODS: We carried out semistructured interviews with 11 qualified Australian midwives with a history of shoulder problems, recruited through purposive sampling. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and manually coded. An inductive approach was used to generate themes.

RESULTS: Five major themes emerged in the analysis: attribution, universality of the experience, short-term coping, long-term coping, and support. Most participants held the view that musculoskeletal problems were normal occurrences and to be expected. Participants felt vulnerable and described the ways they protect themselves from further injury. Those who had left midwifery practice had generally done so for reasons other than the shoulder problem. Family members and coworkers were the main sources of support, whereas most supervisors were perceived as neutral at best.

CONCLUSIONS: Coping strategies that enhance well-being may be most effective. The workplace culture must encourage injury reporting to monitor safety issues and decrease costs at all levels. The study findings suggest several areas for future research in midwives to provide an evidence base for prevention/intervention strategies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-03-01

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  • The International Journal of Childbirth is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal publishing original research, reviews, and case studies concerned with the practice of midwifery, women's health, prenatal care, and the birth process. The journal encourages the exploration of the complex and contextual issues surrounding childbirth provision and outcomes and invites manuscripts from a wide range of clinical, theoretical, political, methodological, psychological, public health, policy, and multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives.
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