Health professionals’ roles and practices in supporting women experiencing miscarriage: A qualitative study

Kirsten L.B. Jensen, Meredith J. Temple-Smith, Jade E. Bilardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Miscarriage can result in significant psychological morbidity. Research suggests health professionals play a role in shaping women's experience of miscarriage. Aims: This study explored the views and practices of Australian health professionals in caring for women experiencing miscarriage. Materials and Methods: Twelve health professionals from disciplines including medicine, midwifery and sonography were purposively sampled. Semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis. Results: Participants acknowledged miscarriage is often a distressing event associated with feelings of grief and failure. They believed women who conceived through in vitro fertilisation, had experienced multiple miscarriages, or had a pre-existing mental illness were likely to experience more distress than others. Despite limited training, participants generally felt competent in their abilities to provide emotional support. They viewed their role largely as guilt-mitigation, which they achieved by stressing the frequency of miscarriage and emphasising that women were not at fault. Follow-up practices varied, and where they did occur, focused on physical recovery. Generally, participants relied on women to express the need for further support. Participants reported that time and resource issues, compassion fatigue and a need for self-protection restricted their abilities to provide better support care. Conclusions: There are discrepancies between the emotional support health professionals think women want and are able to provide, and the support women would like. This exploratory study suggests the need for further investigation into provision of improved health professional support for women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-513
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • abortion
  • emotions
  • health communication
  • health personnel
  • pregnant women
  • spontaneous

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