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Emotion work and boundary maintenance in hospital-based midwifery

Hunter, Billie 2005. Emotion work and boundary maintenance in hospital-based midwifery. Midwifery 21 (3) , pp. 253-266. 10.1016/j.midw.2004.12.007

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Objective to identify and explore the emotion work of hospital-based midwives. Design an ethnographic approach using focus groups, observations and interviews. Setting South Wales, UK. Participants phase one of the study: self-selected convenience sample of 27 student midwives in first and final years of 3-year (direct entry) and 18-month (post-nursing) programmes. Phase two: opportunistic sample of seven qualified hospital-based midwives. Phase three: purposive sample of 10 hospital-based midwives working within one National Health Service Trust. Sample representative of a range of clinical locations, length of clinical experience and clinical grades. Findings the emotion work of midwives was strongly influenced by the context of practice. For hospital-based midwives, relationships with midwifery colleagues were of key importance, providing the main source of feedback on individual practice. Negotiating these relationships was a major source of emotion work. Although collegial relationships could provide support and affirmation, they were also a frequent source of conflict, particularly between junior and senior midwives. This discord was underpinned by conflicting ideologies of midwifery practice. Key conclusions the theoretical framework of boundary maintenance was used to interpret the findings. Senior and junior midwives frequently held contradictory models of practice, resulting in competing claims for occupational jurisdiction. Midwives made use of a variety of devices in order to establish and maintain intra-occupational boundaries. Senior midwives attempted to maintain their position through unwritten rules and sanctions, supported by their claim to greater clinical expertise and experience. Junior midwives rarely challenged this authority; their responses were often subversive and designed to create an appearance of compliance. Implications for practice these findings contribute to our understanding of inter-collegial conflict in UK midwifery, providing insights into workplace harassment and low staff morale, which are likely to exacerbate workforce attrition. The underpinning ideological dissonance experienced by midwives must be acknowledged and tackled for these issues to be effectively addressed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Uncontrolled Keywords: Emotion work; Intra-occupational boundaries; Hospital midwives; Conflict; Collegial relationships
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0266-6138
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 06:54

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