Rationale, aims, and objectives: Empathic attitudes and behaviors of midwives directly affect obstetric outcomes. The study aims to examine the effect of empathy training on the empathic communication skills of midwives and the childbirth satisfaction of primiparous mothers.
Methods: This quasi-experimental study has two sample groups including midwives working in the delivery unit (n=15) and mothers giving birth with the help of these midwives (n=134). Empathy training was given to the midwives through a 32-hour program involving didactic narrative, creative drama, and psychodrama techniques. A “Descriptive Information Form”, and the “Empathic Communication Skills” and “Empathic Tendencies” scales were used to collect data from the midwives, and another “Descriptive Information Form” and the “Scale for Measuring Maternal Satisfaction in Normal Birth” were used for the maternal data.
Results: Empathic communication skills and empathic tendencies of the midwives were found to be higher right after and eight weeks after the training than before the training (p=.001, p=.040, respectively). The total score and sub-dimensions of the maternal satisfaction scale (i.e. midwifery care, respect for privacy, meeting expectations, postpartum care) were found to be higher in mothers giving birth after the midwives’ empathy training than those giving birth before (p<.001). A higher level of maternal birth satisfaction was seen in mothers giving birth right after the training (94%) than those giving birth before training (3%).
Conclusion: The empathy training improved both the empathy skills of midwives, and translated to improved maternal satisfaction with birth among their patients. It is recommended to increase the number of follow-ups to evaluate the long-term effect of empathy training.
Keywords: midwives, empathy, vaginal birth, birth satisfaction, birth unit, experimental study