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Contemporary Maternity Research Priorities for the Nation’s Biggest Health Service: Results of a Delphi Study

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      Background/Aim

      Western Australian Country Health Service (WACHS) is one of the world’s largest health service by area. The diversity of resourcing, population density and remote locations results in distinctive challenges and opportunities in the provision of maternity care. The aim of this Delphi study was to establish a collaborative, interdisciplinary evidence-based consensus regarding maternity research priorities across the service.

      Method

      A three-round Delphi survey method was used. Maternity professionals employed by WACHS (including midwives, obstetricians, GP obstetricians, Aboriginal maternity workers, remote area nurses and midwifery managers / leaders) were invited to participate. The first round collected demographic data and had free text fields, encouraging participants to create a list of ideas, problems and opportunities that could be addressed through research.

      Results

      Responses from the first questionnaire were grouped and summarised. A total of 52 key concepts were identified which were classified across five domains: Clinical Care; Aboriginal Health; Workforce and Education, Logistics and Health Systems; and, Health Equity. The second-round survey sought ranking of the importance and perceived priority of each research topic proposed. The top 15 ranked research topics from round two were then circulated to all WACHS maternity professionals in a round three survey and a final priority ranking to guide the focus of future research activities at WACHS was obtained.

      Significance

      The final results will be available in May 2022 and will report the first-ever systematic and scientific consensus of maternity research priorities identified by the maternity professionals working in the unique settings presented in rural and remote Western Australia. The Delphi will offer an evidence-informed list of research priorities as identified by WACHS maternity professionals. It is anticipated that the study will enhance engagement, collaboration and enthusiasm within the interdisciplinary maternity team to undertake research locally, potentially, with multi-site collaborations within WA or nationally.
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