MIDWIFE AND NURSE-MIDWIFE: The Effect of Title on Perception and Confidence in Services Provided by Professional Midwives


  • Peter G. Johnson CNM, MS,

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Peter Johnson is a clinical assistant professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Nurse-Midwifery Education Program. He received his BS and MS from the State University of New York, and his Midwifery Certificate at the United States Air Force Nurse-Midwifery Education Program and is currently completing requirements for a PhD in Educational Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a member of the ACNM Division of Research, the ACC Research Committee, and the New York State Midwifery Board.

  • The Midwifery Research Project Group

  • The Midwifery Research Project Group consists of the following nurse-midwifery students at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Midwifery Education Program, who completed this study as part of the university school of nursing research requirements: Lisa Barkley, Judith Butler, Susan Hanley, Kelly Lelito, Amy Lindsley, Dawn MacLennan, Pati Matlock, B.J. Mackinnen, Sally McMahan, Nancy Peek, Loretta Richardson, Pam Schaffart, Lisa Sisk, Catherine Stack, Catherine Tambroni-Parker.

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This study surveyed individuals in the communities of nurse-midwifery students. Students, identifying themselves as graduate students doing a telephone survey in the area of health care, posed 56 questions to 200 individuals living in New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. Survey questions were designed to assess the awareness of the terms midwife and nurse-midwife. Additionally, the survey assessed the sample's perception of the range of services provided by midwives and nurse-midwives, as well as its confidence in having these services provided by a midwife or a nurse-midwife. Demographic data were collected to describe the sample and determine the effects of age, gender, marital status, income, and race on perception and confidence with services. There was a statistically significant relationship between stated familiarity with the terms midwife and nurse-midwife and perception of scope of services and confidence in services. Increased familiarity with the terms midwife and nurse-midwife coincided with a more accurate perception of the scope of services provided by both midwives and nurse-midwives and greater confidence in services provided by midwives and nurse-midwives. Demographic factors studied did not impact on either perception or confidence in services. The data in the survey reveal a large proportion of individuals who report being uncertain about midwives' and nurse-midwives' level of education, scope of services, and relationship to the health care system. This suggests that consumer education could have a sharp impact on shaping the public perception of both mid-wives and nurse-midwives. © 1998 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.