The Five Attributes of a Supportive Midwifery Practice Climate: A Review of the Literature

E. Brie Thumm, Linda Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: A supportive work climate is associated with decreased burnout and attrition, and increased job satisfaction and employee health. A review of the literature was conducted in order to determine the unique attributes of a supportive practice climate for midwives. Methods: The midwifery literature was reviewed and synthesized using concept analysis technique guided by literature from related professions. The search was conducted primarily in PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Articles were included if they were conducted between 2006 and 2016 and addressed perceptions of the midwifery practice climate as it related to patient, provider, and organizational outcomes. Results: The literature identified 5 attributes consistent with a supportive midwifery practice climate: effective leadership, adequate resources, collaboration, control of one's work, and support of the midwifery model of care. Effective leadership styles include situational and transformational, and 9 traits of effective leaders are specified. Resources consist of time, personnel, supplies, and equipment. Collaboration encompasses relationships with all members of the health care team, including midwives inside and outside of one's practice. Additionally, the patients are considered collaborating members of the team. Characteristics of effective collaboration include a shared vision, role clarity, and respectful communication. Support for the midwifery model of care includes value congruence, developing relationships with women, and providing high-quality care. Discussion: The attributes of a supportive midwifery practice climate are generally consistent with theoretical models of supportive practice climates of advanced practice nurses and physicians, with the exception of a more inclusive definition of collaboration and support of the midwifery model of care. The proposed Midwifery Practice Climate Model can guide instrument development, determining relationships between the attributes of the practice climate and outcomes, and creating interventions to improve the practice climate, workforce stability, and patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-103
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


  • collaboration
  • leadership
  • midwifery model of care
  • midwifery workforce
  • practice climate
  • practice environment
  • resources
  • role clarity
  • scope of practice
  • work control


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