This study assessed the knowledge of and attitudes toward nurse-midwifery of a selected group of 183 women attending ASPO certified childbirth education classes in the St. Louis metropolitan area. All of the women were at least high school graduates and were primarily of middle class background. A pretested, written questionnaire was used as the data collection tool.
Results from this study indicate that women with prior exposure to nurse-midwifery have a higher level of knowledge and a more favorable attitude toward nurse-midwifery than women without such exposure. It was also found that knowledge was unrelated to the age, educational level or family income of the respondents; knowledge was related to parity of the women. In addition, attitudes toward nurse-midwifery were related to women's age, educational level, parity, and family income. A moderate, positive relationship between attitude and knowledge (r = 0.34, p < 0.001) may suggest that as knowledge about nurse-midwifery is acquired, attitudes toward nurse-midwifery may become more favorable.
There was a general lack of information about nurse-midwives in this sample. These data may also be applicable to women who do not take childbirth education classes under the assumption that they may know even less about nurse-midwifery. This study suggests that additional public knowledge about nurse-midwifery is essential to informed choice among maternity health care options and to improved maternity care.