A new university study is seeking participants to help gather an understanding of the experiences associated with receiving or providing maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health services in Australia have experienced rapid re-design in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a new study aims to understand the human experience of receiving or providing maternity care during this time.

Principal investigator Dr Zoe Bradfield, from Curtin University and King Edward Memorial Hospital, said they have heard anecdotes from around the country of women who have experienced rapid changes to the way their maternity care is being delivered.

“We’ve also heard reports from healthcare workers about the challenges of working within the current climate such as increased need for PPE (personal protective equipment), stress and anxiety from women and their families about the restrictions required for clinical care – minimising face-to-face contact and limiting of amounts of support people.”

The study is looking broadly at those involved in maternity care including women who are pregnant or have given birth since March 2020, partners, midwives, doctors and midwifery students.

“We will keep recruiting for as long as is necessary to collect complete data sets; initial indications were that we would do this until September but it will vary depending on a few factors.”

Dr Bradfield said they will publish the data in peer-reviewed articles and share findings at conferences. They will also have a webpage where plain language summaries of the study findings will be shared.

“Because the survey is anonymous, we can’t contact participants to say ‘here are the findings’ so we’ve built a basic webpage that will allow individuals to access the study findings as they’re available and remain anonymous.”

Dr Bradfield said they hope “to gather an understanding of the experiences associated with receiving or providing maternity care during the current COVID-19 pandemic”.

“The biggest contribution that we’re hoping to make is towards the urgently needed evidence around how people have experienced the restrictions that we have in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Bradfield said.

“This is likely to inform policy, guidelines and future planning for second waves or even future pandemics, to give an understanding of the human experience which can be considered along with the epidemiological and economic modelling that needs to occur.”

This is a national study being conducted by an experienced team of researchers including midwives, obstetricians and psychologists. The researchers have formed a national collaboration between Curtin University, Deakin University, Burnet Institute and University of Melbourne.

People can participate in the survey at this link.

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