Informing the development midwifery standards for practice: A literature review for policy development Academic Article uri icon


  • AIM:To critically appraise and synthesise the literature regarding the role and scope of midwifery practice, specifically to inform the evidence based development of standards for practice for all midwives in Australia. DESIGN:A structured scoping review of the literature DATA SOURCES: CINAHL Complete, MEDLINE Complete and Cochrane Libraries databases, online and grey literature databases REVIEW METHODS: Comprehensive searches of databases used key words and controlled vocabulary for each database to search for publications 2006-2016. Studies were not restricted by research method. FINDINGS:There is no substantive body of literature on midwifery competency standards or standards for practice. From 1648 papers screened, twenty-eight papers were identified to inform this review. Eight studies including systematic reviews were annotated with three research papers further assessed as having direct application to this review. To inform the development of Midwife standards for practice, the comprehensive role of the midwife across multiple settings was seen to include: woman centred and primary health care; safe supportive and collaborative practice; clinical knowledge and skills with interpersonal and cultural competence. KEY CONCLUSIONS:Midwifery practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care and extends to any role where the midwife uses midwifery skills and knowledge. This practice includes working in clinical and non-clinical relationships with the woman and other clients as well as working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory, and policy development roles. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:This review articulates the definition, role and scope of midwifery practice to inform the development of contemporary standards for practice for the Australian midwife.

publication date

  • 2019