Level of burnout in a small population of Australian midwives

Kayleen Jordan, Jennifer Fenwick, Valerie Slavin, Mary Sidebotham, Jenny Gamble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the study was to describe the level of burnout in midwives working at a maternity unit in South East Queensland, Australia. Method: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to all registered midwives (N=110) working at the study site during November 2011. The questionnaire included a demographic survey and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory. Fifty-eight (52.7%) staff completed the package. Data was entered into SPSS database version 19 and descriptive statistics were used to determine means, ranges and frequencies. Results: Almost 30% of the sample experienced moderate to high levels of burnout some 50% of participants scored moderate to high for personal burnout with a similar number scoring high for work-related burnout. In comparison, burnout related to working with clients was very low. Differences between participants were associated with years of experience, area of work and employment position (FT/PT, level of position and work area). Participants aged 35. years or younger and with less than 10. years midwifery experience scored highest on the personal and work-related domains whereas participants over 35. years scored highest within the client-related domain. Midwives at level 1 (lowest pay group) scored highest for work-related burnout and client-related burnout. Midwives in more senior positions (level 2 and above) scored highest for personal burnout. Conclusion: Personal and work-related burnout was high in this group of midwives while burnout related to caring for women was low. These results provide insight into the emotional health of midwives in one maternity unit. While more work is needed, strategies to decrease and/or prevent burnout may include clinical mentorship and reorganising models of maternity care to increase work satisfaction and autonomy and strengthen relationships between midwives and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Burnout
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Emotional labour
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Midwives
  • Models of care
  • Work-related stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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