• change;
  • critical discourse analysis;
  • maternity care;
  • relationships of power

McIntyre M, Francis K, Chapman Y. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2012; 18: 36–43

Critical discourse analysis: Understanding change in maternity services

This paper provides an example of the use of critical discourse analysis (CDA) in the area of maternity care policy and describes the process of CDA as an effective research method for understanding the influences of change in the context of Australian maternity services. CDA is a methodological approach that examines how discourse is formed and given power, as a result of how power is used, who uses it and the context within which this usage takes place. The application of CDA is described in this study for the purpose of examining key-stakeholder use of knowledge and power for the purpose of influencing the direction of the maternity services reform. The CDA theoretical framework guided discourse identification and analysis of the purpose behind the discourse through examination of power relationships between key stakeholders. The use of a theoretical lens in the form of neoliberalism to supplement the theoretical framework facilitated the exposure of forces intrinsic to the maternity care context driving change.