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Midwives’ experiences using personal protective equipment during COVID-19: a scoping review

02 March 2023
Volume 31 · Issue 3



Correct use of personal protective equipment is vital to minimise the risk of patients acquiring healthcare-associated infections. These measures are also important in preventing exposure to occupational infection. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of personal protective equipment was associated with anxiety, uncertainty and additional training requirements. This study investigated midwives’ experiences using personal protective equipment during the pandemic.


This systematic scoping review searched seven academic databases and grey literature. Data analysis was conducted using a thematic analysis framework.


A total of 16 studies were included. Four themes were found: ‘fear and anxiety’, ‘personal protective equipment/resources’, ‘education and training needs’ and ‘communication’.


Management and administration inconsistences, logistical issues and lack of training on personal protective equipment led to midwives’ negative feedback. A gap has been identified in the exploration of midwives’ experiences as personal protective equipment end-users during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthcare facilities depend on standard and transmission-based precautions to prevent and reduce the spread of infectious organisms, in order to protect patients and healthcare workers (Siegel et al, 2007). Especially in extreme infectious situations, certain protective measures need to be in place to limit the possibility of cross infection from both identified and unknown sources. As a result, standard precautions have been implemented on a regular basis with all patients who present in a healthcare environment, to reduce the risk of infection (World Health Organization (WHO), 1998; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2007). Implementation of standard precautions includes the usage of personal protective equipment and were characteristically outlined in hospital guidelines and policies, such as by the CDC (2007) and WHO (2016).

The WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020 (Arden and Chilcot, 2020). As a result of the rapid and unexpected spread of COVID-19, and in response to national and international recommendations, certain restrictions were implemented and imposed. These restrictions shaped the delivery of healthcare services around the world. In Ireland, the Health Service Executive enforced mandatory directives in all healthcare facilities, some of which included wearing personal protective equipment, social distancing and visiting restrictions. These measures were updated and communicated regularly by the Irish government following the Irish Chief Medical Officer’s and the National Public Health Emergency Team recommendations.

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