Applied drama techniques in obstetrics: development of a novel educational workshop to improve obstetrician awareness of compassion, communication and self-care around the time of stillbirth

Trainee participation in a novel educational workshop, using applied drama techniques, resulted in a subjective improvement in key skills that obstetricians should have when caring for and communicating with parents around the time of stillbirth.

Karen McNamara, Keelin O'Donoghue
Journal Name
British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (BJOG)
Journal Article
Bereavement care, Staff support, Staff training, Stillbirth
Impact of adverse perinatal events on healthcare professionals
Full Citation
McNamara K, Fitzpatrick C, Smyth A, O’Donoghue K. Applied drama techniques in obstetrics:development of a novel educational workshop to improve obstetrician awareness of compassion,communication and self-care around the time ofstillbirth. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2019;126(S2):39.
Link to Publication


The death of a baby during pregnancy is upsetting for all involved, including healthcare professionals. Few obstetricians, if any, receive adequate training in how to care for parents following a stillbirth, or training in self-care skills. We developed a workshop for trainee Obstetricians which used drama techniques to teach them skills in communication, self-care, and self-efficacy in breaking bad news. We evaluated this workshop using an anonymised post-workshop questionnaire which was completed by 39 of the 59 (66%) trainees who attended the workshop. Most trainees had received no prior formal training in stillbirth management (34/38, 87%). Following participation in the workshop, there was a statistically significant improvement in trainees’ level of confidence in breaking bad news, communicating clearly with the family when breaking bad news, communicating empathetically with the family when breaking bad news, recognising the emotional needs of the family, recognising their own emotional responses, and supporting their colleagues. In addition, trainees made very positive comments about the course content and reported they would recommend the workshop to a colleague. Based on our findings, we recommend that this type of training should be incorporated on a more permanent basis into the core postgraduate curriculum in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,