'She knows how we feel’: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childbearing women’s experience of Continuity of Care with an Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery student

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Kelly, Jenny
West, Roianne
Gamble, Jennifer
Sidebotham, Mary
Carson, Vicki
Duffy, Elaine
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2014
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Background: Marked differences exist between the maternal and neonatal outcomes of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies compared with the outcomes for other Australian women and their babies. Australian government policies underline the need to increase the number of practising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwives and nurses as a strategy for delivering culturally appropriate healthcare to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Additional challenges are experienced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander midwifery students providing Continuity of Care (COC) to Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander childbearing women. One such example is the challenge presented due to the close connections and relationships that exist within some Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cultures in terms of the maintenance of a professional relationship, in particular, the maintenance of professional boundaries. Whilst there is a growing body of evidence on the benefits to women of continuity of midwifery care models, little is known about the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who receive COC from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery students. Aim: To explore the experiences of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childbearing women who participated in a Continuity of Care journey with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Bachelor of Midwifery student. Methods: Exploratory, descriptive study using semi-structured interviews informed by an Indigenous Research Methodology. Findings: Thematic analysis identified four major themes: (i) communicating our way, (ii) the role of relationships, (iii) support and assistance and (iv) challenges of the system. The findings illustrated the benefits Aboriginal women experience as a result of having Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander midwifery students provide Continuity of Care. Conclusion: Increasing the number of Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander midwives is essential to improving health outcomes for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childbearing women and their families. Caseload midwifery models with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwives across Australia are needed. Health services, in partnership with Universities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, have a vital role to play in the development and expansion of these models. ?

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Women and Birth

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in press

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Biomedical and clinical sciences

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