Birth technology competence: a concept analysis

Citation metadata

Authors: Kenda Crozier, Marlene Sinclair, W. George Kernohan and Sam Porter
Date: Dec. 2006
From: Evidence-Based Midwifery(Vol. 4, Issue 3)
Publisher: Redactive Media Group
Document Type: Article
Length: 4,445 words

Main content

Article Preview :


Aim. To identify birth technology competencies used by midwives to support women during the birthing process and to explore the concept of birth technology competence in midwifery practice in order to inform both education and practice.

Objective. To define attributes of birth technology competence.

Method. The Chinn and Kramer framework for concept analysis was used to examine sources including popular and professional literature, government reports and statutory regulation. The model allows for the exploration of three areas of experience, which interact to form the meaning of an idea or concept--feelings, values and attitudes associated with the concept, the symbolic label for the concept and the concept itself.

Results. Exploration of the literature led to the development of exemplar cases that illuminate tentative attributes of the concept, contained within three domains--interpersonal skills, professional knowledge and clinical proficiency.

Implications. Following testing in midwifery practice to ensure its transferability into the clinical context, the theoretical perspective developed here will provide a basis to inform education and practice in relation to the use of technology.

Key words: Midwifery theory, concept analysis, birth technology competence, midwifery practice, clinical competence


At its most simple, birth technology refers to machinery and tools devised to be used in midwifery and the care of a woman in childbearing. It can be extended to include the skills, and knowledge required to operate the machinery, maintain it, use it safely and interpret its signals and outputs. It also includes the use of electronic systems for managing data, ordering tests and results. The work of a midwife in relation to technology has been explored previously by Sinclair (2001), who theorises that technology is invisible to the expert user and identifies the need for midwives to be 'ready' and competent to support women in birth with or without technology.

However, her research concluded that the meaning of birth technology competence had not yet been defined or articulated by midwives, and that this was an area for future midwifery research. Since then, midwifery researchers have articulated the meaning of caseload midwifery (Henty, 2004; Kirkham, 2003) and midwife-led birth centres (Kirkham, 2003), but there is a distinct lack of theory development for technological birth. It is important that models of a discipline are developed from within the profession, but this cannot be done by academics acting alone (Whittington and Boore, 1988). Theory development is therefore important to the development of the profession with a unique body of knowledge, distinct from obstetrics. In terms of birth technology, there seems to be a gap between practice, where midwives use technology on a daily basis, and theory, which tends to concentrate on the role of the midwife in 'normal ' or low-technology birth.

Meleis (2005) asserts that an integrated approach to theory development using the relationship between theory, practice and research is the most effective way forward. Defining the meaning of birth technology competence in midwifery will allow the development of means to assess it, and enable midwives to understand the development of the necessary competencies...

Source Citation

Source Citation
Crozier, Kenda, et al. "Birth technology competence: a concept analysis." Evidence-Based Midwifery, vol. 4, no. 3, Dec. 2006, pp. 96+. Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A167030960