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Survey of midwives' perinatal mental health knowledge, confidence, attitudes and learning needs

Noonan, Maria; Jomeen, Julie; Galvin, Rose; Doody, Owen


Maria Noonan

Julie Jomeen

Rose Galvin

Owen Doody



Midwives have a primary role in facilitating the first stage of perinatal mental health risk reduction through inquiring about perinatal mental health, identifying risk factors and current perinatal mental health problems, providing support or crisis intervention, referring for treatment and decreasing stigmatisation.


The aims of this study were to determine midwives’ (a) knowledge of and confidence to identify and manage perinatal mental health problems, (b) attitudes towards women who experience severe mental illness and (c) perceived learning needs.


A cross-sectional survey design.


The study was conducted between September 2016 and April 2017 in seven Maternity services in the Republic of Ireland with a purposeful non-random convenience sample of midwives (n = 157). Data was anonymously collected utilising the Perinatal Mental Health Questionnaire, the Mental Illness: Clinician’s Attitudes scale and the Perinatal Mental Health Learning Needs questionnaire.


Midwives indicated high levels of knowledge (71.1%) and confidence (72%) in identifying women who experience depression and anxiety however, they reported less confidence in caring (43.9%) for women. Only 17.8% (n = 28) of midwives felt equipped to support women whilst 15.3% (n = 24) reported having access to sufficient information. Midwives desire education on the spectrum of perinatal mental health problems. The mean score for the Mental Illness: Clinician’s Attitudes scale was 36.31 (SD = 7.60), indicating positive attitudes towards women with severe mental illness.


Midwives require further education on perinatal mental health across cultures with a skill focus and which explores attitudes delivered in a study day format.


Noonan, M., Jomeen, J., Galvin, R., & Doody, O. (2018). Survey of midwives' perinatal mental health knowledge, confidence, attitudes and learning needs. Women and Birth, 31(6), e358-e366.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 5, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 14, 2018
Publication Date 2018-12
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 15, 2019
Journal Women and Birth
Print ISSN 1871-5192
Electronic ISSN 1878-1799
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 6
Pages e358-e366
Keywords Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Maternity and Midwifery; Perinatal mental health; Midwifery; Attitudes; Learning needs
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