Woman-centred care

Int J Nurs Stud. 2001 Apr;38(2):227-38. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7489(00)00034-1.


Changes over the past decade have emphasised the individual service user and their relationship with the health service. Within the maternity services this has been interpreted as woman-centred care a result of key initiatives; the Winterton Report (House of Commons, 1992. Maternity Services. Second Report of the Health Committee (Winterton Report), Vol. 1. HMSO, London) and Changing Childbirth (DoH, 1993a, Changing childbirth: reports of the expert maternity group parts 1 & 2. HMSO, London). Changing Childbirth outlined key principles of the maternity services and the need for the woman (and her partner, if she wishes) to be the focus of care. The key principles are choice, continuity and control. High quality care depends on the recognition of individuals as having unique needs which continues to be reflected within contemporary policy documents (DoH, 1997, The new NHS: modern and dependable. HMSO, London). This paper presents findings related to the provision of woman-centred care from a national research and development study. The study design incorporated (i): a national survey which was undertaken with midwives, midwife supervisors and doctors; and (ii): in-depth case studies in which information was obtained through interviews with midwives, midwife supervisors, educators, managers, doctors and mothers. Midwives, at all levels, are involved in changing maternity service provision and adapting to new systems of care which aim to increase continuity of care and carer for the woman. The researchers sought to understand how woman-centred care was interpreted and experienced in practice. The findings have been used to identify the continuing educational needs of midwives, and to develop an open learning educational package to meet identified need. The curriculum was designed to enhance the move towards the provision of a more integrated woman-centred service.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Description
  • Maternal Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*
  • Nurse Midwives / education
  • Nurse Midwives / organization & administration*
  • Nurse Midwives / psychology*
  • Nursing Research
  • Obstetrics
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Women's Health Services / organization & administration*