To explore student midwives' perceptions of health promotion in contemporary midwifery practice. The study aimed to explore the knowledge, understanding, beliefs and values in relation to health promotion in midwifery practice held by final year student midwives.Design:
Qualitative data collected using focus groups, using a funnelling technique of questioning.Setting:
A university in the North-East of England.Participants:
Eight final year pre-registration student midwives were purposively selected, all having experience in a range of community and hospital settings.Findings:
Although student midwives found it difficult to define the term ‘health promotion’, it was viewed as an ‘add on’ activity rather than an integral part of their role. The common experience of health promotion for the students was framed within a medical model of health promotion, which gave focus to screening and targeting individual lifestyle choices, devoid of the social context. Changes in public health policy (DH 1999a) advocating a different approach to tackling health inequalities does not seem evident in the students' experiences. Some deficits in their educational preparation to participate in effective health promotion were also identified, most explicit being a lack of confidence in areas relating to mental health and domestic violence.Implications for midwifery:
Although the qualitative design of the study does not allow findings to be generalised, it does provide useful findings to inform future educational developments for student midwives. The role of the midwife and recognition of health promotion as a core function needs to be explicit in the curriculum and throughout the course. As learning ‘on the job’ has much more influence than classroom learning, there is also a need to consider the implications for education at post-registration level.