24 Nov 2008 5:00pm - 6:30pm CRASSH Seminar Room, 17 Mill Lane


Prof. Jane Sandall (Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College, London)

In Western societies we live in an era where visual images play an important role in influencing our views of key life events. From early childhood we see media images of women in labour that reinforce the notion of women giving birth in hospital on a bed and that childbirth is a risky enterprise. Yet current maternity policy in England has a concern with unnecessary intervention in pregnancy and childbirth and states that medical interventions are recommended only when they are of benefit to the woman and/or her baby and that women should have an informed choice regarding place and type of birth., Furthermore, policy suggests that midwives and doctors improve their skills and confidence in supporting women to have a ‘natural’ and ‘normal birth’ (Department of Health, 2007).

This presentation draws on ongoing research(1) commissioned to model, develop and field test an education package for maternity staff to increase their confidence and competence in supporting women and their birth partners to have a positive labour and birth without unnecessary intervention. The learning package for midwifery and medical students and NHS maternity staff includes interactive, multidisciplinary workshops; using researcher generated video clips, and photographs. Data generated to inform the research includes focus groups with women and interviews with women and partners, maternity staff, national opinion leaders and interactions with pregnant and labouring women, most of which have either been videoed or audio-taped. A Cochrane review suggests that interactive workshops are potentially one of the most effective methods to achieve moderately large changes in professional practice, and recommends that future research should include qualitative process evaluations to help clarify how specific attributes of workshops might contribute to effects on professional practice(2) . This presentation will provide an example of some of the video material
used and discuss these issues in relation to the use of visual image and attempts to influence professional behaviour change.

I am a Professor of Midwifery and Women’s Health at King’s College, London. My research has been theoretically informed by an academic background in the social sciences and has been concerned with two questions: How does the social and cultural shaping of maternal health policy influence the organisation and delivery of healthcare work, and the services and outcomes that women and their families’ experience? How is knowledge and practice shaped by, and mediated through new health technologies and what are the social, ethical and organisational implications of these? Our research has been funded by the ESRC/MRC Innovative Health Technologies Programme, Department of Health, NCCSDO, Wellcome Trust, and a range of Medical and Health Charities. I am currently leading a programme of work on innovation in service delivery and health technologies in the NIHR King’s Patient Safety and Service Quality Research Centre. Current projects include exploring how patient journeys through complex care systems can be made safer i.e. how delays in the detection and management of patients with a deteriorating condition can be improved in maternity and acute medicine, and how the impact of novel health technologies on safety and quality of care as they are developed and translated into mainstream provision can be improved www.pssq.kch.org

1. Normal Birth Matters; Development and field testing of a training package for maternity staff to improve support for women to have a normal birth, NSF for Children, Young People and Maternity Services Research Initiative.

2. Thomson OM., Freemantle, N., Oxman, A., Wolf, F., Davis, D., & Herrin, J. (2001). Continuing education meetings and workshops: effects on professional practice and health care outcomes. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 1.

All welcome. No registration required.

Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum (CIRF


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk