Research question: To determine the incidence and level of work-related stress and burnout in midwives and contributing and protective demographic factors that may influence those levels.
Participants and method: All registered midwives (152) working in two public hospital maternity units within the same health service district in NSW completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey and a demographic survey including care model, shift work, lifestyle data and exercise level.
Findings: There was a response rate of 36.8% with 56 (56/152) midwives completing the surveys. Almost two thirds (60.7%) of midwives in this sample experienced moderate to high levels of emotional exhaustion, a third (30.3%) scoring low personal accomplishment and a third (30.3%) experiencing depersonalization related to burnout. Significant differences were found among groups of midwives according to years in the profession, shifts worked, how many women with multiple psychosocial issues were included in the midwife's workload and the midwife's uptake of physical exercise. Those midwives who had spent longer in the profession and exercised scored low burnout levels.
Conclusion: The impact of years in the profession, shifts worked, how many women with multiple psychosocial issues were included in their workload and the midwife's level of exercise significantly affected how these midwives dealt with burnout and provided care for women. As the response rate was low, and the study cannot be generalised to the entire midwifery workforce but provides important insights for further research. Understanding factors related to burnout can benefit health care institutions financially and in terms of human costs, especially in view of consistent international shortages of midwives.