Improving psychoeducation for women fearful of childbirth: Evaluation of a research translation project

Jennifer Fenwick, Jocelyn Toohill, Valerie Slavin, Debra K. Creedy, Jenny Gamble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Psychoeducation counselling delivered by midwives has been demonstrated to reduce maternal fear and improve women's confidence for birth. Translating the evidence in practice presents challenges. A systematic approach to the implementation of evidence and evaluation of this process can improve knowledge translation. Aim: To implement and evaluate the translation of psychoeducation counselling on (1) midwives’ knowledge, skills and confidence to provide the counselling; (2) perceived barriers and enablers to embedding the psychoeducation counselling in practice; and (3) pregnant women's levels of fear. Methods: Using a mixed methods approach, data were collected using a pre (n = 22) and post (n = 21) training survey, recorded interviews (n = 17), diaries (n = 6), and retrospective audit of fear of birth scores. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, independent sample t-tests, and chi-square tests. Latent content analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data. Results: Training in the counselling framework significantly improved midwives’ knowledge, skills and confidence to counsel women on psychosocial issues and reduce fear scores for women reporting high childbirth fear. The main barriers to midwives introducing counselling into routine care related to the fragmentation of care delivery during pregnancy. Conversely continuity of care by a known midwife was considered an enabler. Conclusion: Psychoeducation provided by midwives is of benefit to women experiencing high levels of birth fear. While psychoeducation training was successful in enhancing midwives’ knowledge, skills and confidence; embedding the counselling framework in everyday practice was challenging. Counselling is more easily implemented within midwifery caseload models which enable midwives to build relationships with women across their pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Childbirth fear
  • Knowledge translation
  • Maternity workforce
  • Midwives
  • Psychoeducation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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