Patterns and influences of interprofessional communication between midwives and CAM practitioners: A preliminary examination of the perceptions of midwives

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine, 2013, 25 (1), pp. 4 - 10
Issue Date:
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Women are increasingly using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as naturopathy and Western herbal medicine during their pregnancy and midwives have described an affinity for CAM. However, the reality of the midwife-CAM practitioner interface remains largely unexplored. This study reports findings from a pilot survey of midwives (n=53), examining their behavioural patterns and attitudes towards communication with CAM practitioners. The results indicate that less than one quarter (22%) of midwives initiated formal CAM practitioner communications, despite 83% of respondents believing formal communication should exist. Nearly half (43%) of midwives lacked a clear understanding of the legal implications of recommending CAM (either products or practitioners) within their practice, whilst 67% reported understanding their workplace policies regarding CAM referral and use as part of their practice scope. Interprofessional behaviour and attitudes towards communication with CAM practitioners was found to be associated with professional experience, age and midwife involvement with research and education. More focus is needed on education and legislative support for safe CAM use in maternity care to develop procedures, guidelines and protocols for clinicians from discrete professional groups providing concurrent care to pregnant women. Achieving safe and collaborative interprofessional maternity care within the CAM field requires close attention from researchers, clinicians, hospital administrators and policy makers. © National Herbalists Association of Australia 2013.
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