Risk perception on the labour ward: A mixed methods study

Risk, and the terminology around risk, is a challenge for staff in maternity hospitals, and better workplace strategies are needed to train and support staff.


Claire McCarthy, Sarah Meaney, Keelin O'Donoghue

Journal Name
Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management
Journal Article
Full Citation

McCarthy C, Meaney S, Rochford M, O’Donoghue K. Risk perception on the labour ward: A mixed methods study. Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management. 2021;26(2):56-63.

Link to Publication


Even though most women are medically well at the start of pregnancy, identifying the risk of complications in pregnancy for both mother and baby is an important part of clinical practice for staff in maternity hospitals.  Dealing with situations where there is a serious risk of harm to the health or life of a pregnant woman or her infant can have an impact on staff. This hospital-based study, which consisted of a questionnaire, as well as interviews with staff, aimed to explore opinions of staff when faced with certain types of emergency scenarios and to examine the behaviours and emotions associated with these events. Results showed that risk was a word with negative connotations for staff and caused negative emotions. Situations where staff were exposed to risk nearly universally had an effect on both their personal and professional lives. Meeting together to discuss and reflect  on events afterwards was helpful for staff, but this needs skilled leadership to be of benefit. Providing improved staff training and support at work is important.

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,