Sarah Thompson, a midwife at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded her scholarship to undertake an MSc Dissertation into “Women’s perceptions of perineal repair: an exploratory study”.
How did you find out about the Florence Nightingale Foundation?
I was directed towards the Florence Nightingale Foundation by my MSc course leader, Professor Jayne Marshall, at The University of Nottingham. The Foundation came highly recommended, as previous MSc students with the university had been successful and I had been told that the Foundation was keen to support healthcare professionals who wanted to improve care based on evidence and patient’s wishes; both of which are extremely important.
Why did you choose to conduct your research on this topic?
There is very limited insight into women’s experiences and perceptions of perineal repair. Most research relates to physical aspects of suturing and how best to manage pain and reduce physical morbidity. My time in the clinical area has highlighted that women frequently reflect on their suturing experiences and, when they feel dissatisfied, it can impact on their perception of the whole birth. There is also sometimes confusion about the extent of the trauma and how the repair was undertaken. As midwives, we are trying to encourage women to be involved and proactive in planning and preparing for a safe birth. I believe this is an aspect of their care that women might want more information about.
What is the aim of your research?
The aim of the study is to explore women’s perceptions of perineal repair as an aspect of normal childbirth. My objectives include: determining the emphasis women place on this part of the childbirth experience; discovering whether women understand the degree of trauma sustained and to ascertain if they feel informed about the level of repair undertaken; investigating the impact the suturing experience has on how a woman adjusts to her new role as a mother; ascertaining the impact perineal trauma and repair has on how women perceive themselves; exploring whether the experience differed from women’s antenatal expectations and what had shaped these preconceptions; and examining whether there are any aspects of midwife facilitated perineal repair that could be improved upon to address women’s psychological needs.
How will you conduct your research?
I will be undertaking a qualitative study using phenomenological methods (using someone’s personal experiences). I plan to interview 10-12 women, using unstructured interviews, with just a few prompt questions.
Who do you hope to achieve?
I hope my research will contribute to improving service provision and will ensure that current practices are based on women’s wishes and are reflective of their psychological needs.
I want to understand the importance women place on perineal repair and what factors they find significant. I hope that by understanding their expectations and feelings we can make care more patient-focused and ensure that women feel their dignity is maintained. I hope that this research will be used to increase patient satisfaction and ensure women have a positive birth experience.
We will be following Sarah’s research progress over the next year and look forward to seeing her results.
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