Barriers and enablers of implementation of alcohol guidelines with pregnant women: a cross-sectional survey among UK midwives

Lesley A Smith, Judith Dyson, Julie Watson, Lisa Schölin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: In 2016, the UK Chief Medical Officers revised their guidance on alcohol and advised women to abstain from alcohol if pregnant or planning pregnancy. Midwives have a key role in advising women about alcohol during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to investigate UK midwives’ practices regarding the 2016 Chief Medical Officers Alcohol Guidelines for pregnancy, and factors influencing their implementation during antenatal appointments. Methods: Online cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of UK midwives recruited through professional networks and social media. Data were gathered using an anonymous online questionnaire addressing knowledge of the 2016 Alcohol Guidelines for pregnancy; practice behaviours regarding alcohol assessment and advice; and questions based on the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to evaluate implementation of advising abstinence at antenatal booking and subsequent antenatal appointments. Results: Of 842 questionnaire respondents, 58% were aware of the 2016 Alcohol Guidelines of whom 91% (438) cited abstinence was recommended, although 19% (93) cited recommendations from previous guidelines. Nonetheless, 97% of 842 midwives always or usually advised women to abstain from alcohol at the booking appointment, and 38% at subsequent antenatal appointments. Mean TDF domain scores (range 1–7) for advising abstinence at subsequent appointments were highest (indicative of barriers) for social influences (3.65 sd 0.84), beliefs about consequences (3.16 sd 1.13) and beliefs about capabilities (3.03 sd 073); and lowest (indicative of facilitators) for knowledge (1.35 sd 0.73) and professional role and identity (1.46 sd 0.77). Logistic regression analysis indicated that the TDF domains: beliefs about capabilities (OR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.57, 0.88), emotion (OR = 0.78; 95%CI: 0.67, 0.90), and professional role and identity (OR = 0.69, 95%CI 0.51, 0.95) were strong predictors of midwives advising all women to abstain from alcohol at appointments other than at booking. Conclusions: Our results suggest that skill development and reinforcement of support from colleagues and the wider maternity system could support midwives’ implementation of alcohol advice at each antenatal appointment, not just at booking could lead to improved outcomes for women and infants. Implementation of alcohol care pathways in maternity settings are beneficial from a lifecourse perspective for women, children, families, and the wider community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Behaviour change
  • Healthcare practice
  • Implementation
  • Lifecourse epidemiology
  • Maternal health
  • Prevention


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