Objective: to explore the conditions important in facilitating the empowerment of midwives, as judged by practising midwives.
Design: a cross-sectional, descriptive, national survey of nurses and midwives practising in Ireland was undertaken in 2002. The questionnaire used in the survey included the 'Understanding of Empowerment Scale'.
Participants: the data come from a larger national study of empowerment among nurses and midwives carried out by the authors in 2001/2 (Scott et at., 2003). A random sample of 4050 nurses and midwives in Ireland was obtained from the Live Register of An Bord Altranais (Irish Nursing Board). There was an overall response rate of 46% (n = 1781). Of these, 1340 people completed questionnaires, as 441 of those who replied were not in practice at the time. Of those who completed the questionnaire, 7% (n = 95) were practising midwives. Their findings are reported in this paper.
Measurements and findings: factor analysis using the Principal Axis Factoring method of extraction and an oblique (Direct Oblimin) rotation was carried out on the Understanding of Empowerment Scale. This suggested four factors or conditions important for the empowerment of midwives: control, support, recognition and skills.
Key conclusions: these findings relating to the conditions that facilitate empowerment in midwifery reflect the professional distinctiveness of midwifery and take into account the specific rote and working environment of the midwife. Implications for practice: the identification of the important conditions to facilitate empowerment in midwifery provides a framework with which to explore ways of building on strengths and addressing weaknesses within the current situation for midwives in Ireland and elsewhere. These suggestive findings offer an opportunity to further develop a tool, to measure levels of these conditions necessary to facilitate empowerment in midwifery. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.