The hardware and software implications of hospital birth room design: A midwifery perspective

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Midwifery, 2014, 30 (7), pp. 825 - 830
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Hammond et al Midwifery 2013 publication of hardware and software paper.docxAccepted Manuscript Version13.54 kB
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Objective: to explore the impacts of physical and aesthetic design of hospital birth rooms on midwives. Background: the design of a workplace, including architecture, equipment, furnishings and aesthetics, can influence the experience and performance of staff. Some research has explored the effects of workplace design in health care environments but very little research has examined the impact of design on midwives working in hospital birth rooms. Methods: a video ethnographic study was undertaken and the labours of six women cared for by midwives were filmed. Filming took place in one birth centre and two labour wards within two Australian hospitals. Subsequently, eight midwives participated in video-reflexive interviews whilst viewing the filmed labour of the woman for whom they provided care. Thematic analysis of the midwife interviews was undertaken. Findings: midwives were strongly affected by the design of the birth room. Four major themes were identified: finding a space amongst congestion and clutter; trying to work underwater; creating ambience in a clinical space and being equipped for flexible practice. Aesthetic features, room layout and the design of equipment and fixtures all impacted on the midwives and their practice in both birth centre and labour ward settings. Conclusion and implications for practice: the current design of many hospital birth rooms challenges the provision of effective midwifery practice. Changes to the design and aesthetics of the hospital birth room may engender safer, more comfortable and more effective midwifery practice. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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