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Towards a conceptualisation of woman centred care — A global review of professional standards

      Highlights

      • This article reviewed midwifery professional documents revealing a limited reference to woman centred care.
      • Due to the lack of a uniform definition, the concept, at this time, remains widely interpreted.
      • Despite midwifery practice being woman centred, a definition of the concept has limited attention within the peer-reviewed evidence.
      • Woman centred care is mostly referred to through an operational lens, and at this time, there is no clear universally accepted definition.
      • However, it is purported that woman centred care underpins midwifery philosophy.

      Abstract

      Background

      Woman centred care is purported to underpin Midwifery philosophy. However, the evidence and focus of this concept within midwifery professional standards has yet to be verified. Further to this, woman centred care is, at this time, mostly depicted as a way of assisting, supporting and interacting with a woman and her family. It is however, without a substantive universally accepted definition.

      Objective

      This study aimed to review midwifery standards documents. An organised and targeted methodology was conducted to identify the approaches to woman centred care that currently underpin midwifery governance.

      Methods

      A comprehensive and specific search for ‘woman centred care’ was conducted across a global collection of midwifery standards. A professional document was included if it represented either or all of the underpinnings of midwifery education, contained statements related to standards of practice, overall governance or any equivalence. Individual documents were initially searched for the words ‘woman centred care’, followed by ‘women centred care’, ‘patient/person centred care’ and ‘client centred care’.

      Findings

      An extensive review of 142 documents was undertaken. These included: thirty independent nations, thirty represented by the European Midwives Association and a further twenty-one identified through the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). The World Health Organisation (WHO), yielded midwifery information from a further sixty-one nations. The phrase ‘woman centred care’ was located within 3.5% of the documents reviewed. Overall, five examples were found that directly referred to the actual phrase ‘woman centred care’ and one to the use of ‘person centred care’. Therefore, it was established, that at the time of this review, there was limited formal depiction of the concept of woman centred care.

      Keywords

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