International consensus definition of critical thinking in midwifery practice: A Delphi study

Published:February 15, 2022DOI:



      Currently there is no discipline-specific definition of critical thinking in midwifery practice.


      Critical thinking in midwifery practice is the cornerstone for safe, evidence based, and woman centred clinical decision-making. Available definitions of critical thinking in other disciplines do not align with midwifery practice which is distinctive, multidimensional and complex.


      To develop an international consensus definition of critical thinking in midwifery practice.


      A two round Delphi study was used. Thirty-two international midwifery experts contributed to the first round which was qualitative in nature. Twenty one of these experts then ranked the relevance and clarity of concepts from round one.


      A consensus definition of critical thinking in midwifery practice was achieved. The expert panel identified and defined 14 ‘Habits of Mind’ and 12 Skills that are the core of critical thinking in midwifery practice. Skills included; analysis, constructive application and contextualisation of best available evidence, problem solving, discriminating, predicting, evaluation of care, collect and interpret clinical cues, collaboration/ negotiation, reflexivity, facilitates shared decision-making, communication, and transforming knowledge. Habits of Mind included; intellectual curiosity, reflective, holistic view, intellectual integrity, flexibility, questioning/challenging, participatory, open mindedness, listening with understanding and empathy, cultural humility, woman centred, being brave, confidence, and creativity.


      This study is an international first and delineates characteristics of critical thinking in midwifery. Development of a consensus definition provides a common and shared understanding of the skills and attributes required for critical thinking in midwifery practice and can also be applied in education and research.


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