Background. Power is a central element in all social interactions. In order to act appropriately in different care situations, it is important to understand the meaning of power.
Aim. This paper reports a study whose aim was to describe delivery ward staff opinions about the exercise of power over women in communications.
Methods. Data were collected in 2000 using a questionnaire developed for the study with a convenience sample of 155 midwifery and nursing professionals in delivery wards in four Finnish hospitals.
Results. The results showed that in respondents’ opinions they worked for women's good and aimed at relationships based on a sense of equality and individuality. Negative power was used in situations where women's well-being was threatened. The power used was verbal or non-verbal.
Conclusions. The exercise of power is not only negative in nature. There are times, such as in life-threatening situations, when it is crucial that the professional takes control and makes decisions immediately, and in that sense exercises power.