Around 5,000 miscarriages and 300 perinatal deaths per year result from maternal smoking in the United Kingdom. In the northeast of England, 22% of women smoke at delivery compared to 14% nationally. Midwives have designated responsibilities to help pregnant women stop smoking. We aimed to assess perceived implementation difficulties regarding midwives’ roles in smoking cessation in pregnancy.
A self-completed, anonymous survey was sent to all midwives in northeast England (n = 1,358) that explores the theoretical explanations for implementation difficulties of four behaviours recommended in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance: (a) asking a pregnant woman about her smoking behaviour, (b) referring to the stop-smoking service, (c) giving advice about smoking behaviour, and (d) using a carbon monoxide monitor. Questions covering Michie et al.’s theoretical domain framework (TDF), describing 11 domains of hypothesised behavioural determinants (i.e., ‘knowledge’, ‘skills’, ‘social/professional role/identity’, ‘beliefs about capabilities’, ‘beliefs about consequences’, ‘motivation and goals’, ‘memory’, ‘attention and decision processes’, ‘environmental context and resources’, ‘social influences’, ‘emotion’, and ‘self-regulation/action planning’), were used to describe perceived implementation difficulties, predict self-reported implementation behaviours, and explore relationships with demographic and professional variables.
The overall response rate was 43% (n = 589). The number of questionnaires analysed was 364, following removal of the delivery-unit midwives, who are not directly involved in providing smoking-cessation services. Participants reported few implementation difficulties, high levels of motivation for all four behaviours and identified smoking-cessation work with their role. Midwives were less certain about the consequences of, and the environmental context and resources available for, engaging in this work relative to other TDF domains. All domains were highly correlated. A principal component analysis showed that a single factor (‘propensity to act’), derived from all domains, explained 66% of variance in theoretical domain measures. The ‘propensity to act’ was predictive of the self-reported behaviour ‘Refer all women who smoke……to NHS Stop Smoking Services’ and mediated the relationship between demographic variables, such as midwives’ main place of work, and behaviour.
Our findings advance understanding of what facilitates and inhibits midwives’ guideline implementation behaviours in relation to smoking cessation and will inform the development of current practice and new interventions. Using the TDF as a self-completion questionnaire is innovative, and this study supports previous research that the TDF is an appropriate tool to understand the behaviour of healthcare professionals.