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Midwives' substance use

02 April 2021
3 min read


One year on from the first COVID-19 lockdown, is substance use amongst midwives more or less problematic?

In January 2020, we, in partnership with a wider research team from Coventry University, collected data from 623 midwives in relation to their problematic substance use (PSU), help seeking and perceptions of impairment (Pezaro 2020). Our findings were broadly in line with other professional groups in healthcare, in that a lack of support, fear, shame, stigma and denial can act as barriers to help seeking and highlight the need for targeted workplace interventions in this area (Weenink et al, 2017).

In paramedics, PSU may be linked to occupational distress (Hichisson and Corkery, 2020). This was similarly evident from our data with midwives. PSU has been reported in 6%–20% of nursing populations (Ross et al, 2018), and in 8%–15% of physicians (Vayr et al, 2019). In a nursing population, the criteria for alcohol use disorder was met in 6%–10% of those surveyed (Servodidio, 2011), and a recent meta-analysis representing 457 415 healthcare workers globally has identified the pooled prevalence of tobacco use at 21% (Nilan et al, 2019).

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