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Ethical Code and Professional Identity: A Survey on Italian Midwives

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OBJECTIVE: The purpose is to describe the professional identity of Italian midwives as depicted by the Italian Midwives Ethical Code and expressed in everyday work.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. The parameters explored to describe the key aspects of midwives' professional identity are culture, competence, membership, and acknowledgment. The survey is carried out through a nonvalidated questionnaire. The instrument was delivered to 235 midwives of the districts of Como, Lecco, and Sondrio (Lombardia, Italy) working in hospitals, or in communities or as independent midwives.

MAJOR FINDINGS: The response rate is 79.1%. Regarding “culture,” it has been found that the survey participants consider midwives' autonomy to be relevant (50.0%). As to “competence,” they emphasized collaboration among professionals (60.8%). Concerning “membership,” the participants highlighted the role of midwives professional colleges (58.1%). As to “acknowledgment,” midwives expressed a high level of respect and cooperation among professionals (76.9%), but they consider midwifery to be a semiprofession (58.1%). Cross-tabulated analysis suggests that midwives, particularly those who achieved a diploma under the old academic regulations (p < .05) and those who work outside a hospital environment (p < .05), do not consider autonomy to be enough to establish midwifery as a fully fledged profession.

MAIN CONCLUSION: The most widespread profile emerging from the survey results seems to be the so-called “hybrid midwife,” who experiences the contradiction between what can actually be achieved in a hospital environment and the core values of midwifery. It would be advisable to extend the survey to a wider sample and to further investigate aspects such as continuity of care, autonomy, and profession/professionalism employing qualitative research instruments, such as participant observation and in-depth interviews.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-03-01

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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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