A survey of Australian midwives’ knowledge, experience, and training needs in relation to female genital mutilation

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2018, 31 (1), pp. 25 - 30
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© 2017 Australian College of Midwives Background: Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury for non-medical reasons. Due to international migration patterns, health professionals in high income countries are increasingly caring for women with FGM. Few studies explored the knowledge and skills of midwives in high income countries. Aim: To explore the knowledge, experience and needs of midwives in relation to the care of women with FGM. Methods: An online self-administered descriptive survey was designed and advertised through the Australian College of Midwives’ website. Results: Of the 198 midwives (24%) did not know the correct classification of FGM. Almost half of the respondents (48%) reported they had not received FGM training during their midwifery education. Midwives (8%) had been asked, or knew of others who had been asked to perform FGM in Australia. Many midwives were not clear about the law or health data related to FGM and were not aware of referral paths for affected women. Conclusion: As frontline providers, midwives must have appropriate up-to-date clinical skills and knowledge to ensure they are able to provide women with FGM the care they need and deserve. Midwives have a critical role to play in the collection of FGM related data to assist with health service planning and to prevent FGM by working closely with women and communities they serve to educate and advocate for its abandonment. Therefore, addressing educational gaps and training needs are key strategies to deliver optimal quality of care.
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