Academic Midwife Sally Pezaro leads research into substance use and improving well-being of healthcare professionals
A Coventry University academic midwife is leading on research that aims to support the health and well-being of healthcare professionals who have turned to substance use.
The research led by Dr Sally Pezaro, a midwife and associate researcher in the Centre for Arts Memory and Communities (CAMC) at the university, will explore key challenges faced by midwives in particular, their intentions to leave the sector and how to best support the midwifery population, particularly with the additional pressures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current research follows a survey of 623 midwives in 2020 which found a number of factors preventing midwives from seeking help in the workplace – including lack of support, fear, shame and stigma around such challenging issues.
Dr Pezaro, in collaboration with chartered psychologist Dr Karen Maher, is appealing to midwives across the UK to take part in the new survey in order to further understand factors that have affected their health and well-being.
In particular, the research looks to further understand problematic substance use in the midwifery profession and tackle barriers to necessary support and intervention.
Dr Pezaro said: “There is a direct link between the wellbeing of midwives and the safety and quality of care. Though this topic is difficult to research, it is vital that we improve our understandings in this area to move forward with the development of appropriate interventions, the reduction of stigma and appropriate policy action. I am excited to be leading on this project, which is the first of its kind.”
Dr Karen Maher said: “Midwives have been under pressure through increasing demands on pre- and post-natal care, alongside shortfalls in recruitment as many leave the profession. Substance use is one way in which individuals may seek to cope with highly pressurised working conditions.
“Through a detailed understanding of the issues connected with substance use in midwifery we can design interventions to prevent midwives turning to substance use as a form of coping, promote help-seeking before it becomes problematic, and support midwives engaging in substance use in a compassionate way, keeping skilled and experienced midwives in the profession for longer.”
It is hoped that responses from professionals across the sector will offer crucial results for more rigorous analysis of work engagement, health risks and help seeking behaviours, and contribute to new or improved health and well-being policies in the sector going into the future.