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The expected and actual communication of health care workers during the management of intrapartum: An interpretive multiple case study

Doreen K.M. M'Rithaa, Sue Fawcus, Mikko Korpela, Retha De la Harpe

African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine; Vol 7, No 1 (2015), 8 pages. doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.911

Submitted: 30 June 2015
Published:  03 December 2015


Background: Daily activities within a health care organisation are mediated by information communication processes (ICP) involving multiple health care professionals at different levels of care. Effective perinatal management requires critical information to be accurately communicated. If there is a breakdown in this communication patient safety is at risk for various reasons such as: inadequate critical information, misconception of information and uninformed decisions being made. The purpose of this study was to interpret the complexities around ICP in order to contribute to the effective management of the intrapartum period.

Methods: Multi method, multiple case study approach was used to understand the ICP during the management of the intrapartum period. During the study, the expected ICP, the actual ICP, the challenges involved and the desired ICP were analysed. Twenty-four in-depth interviews with skilled birth attendants (SBAs) employing observer-as-participant roles, field notes, and document review methods were utilised to gather the data. Thematic analysis was utilised to analyse the data using Atlas TI software.

Results: The study revealed three subthemes which emerged from the expected ICP, whilst three others that emerged formed the theme actual ICP. The subthemes from the expected ICP included: accessibility of obstetric services, expected referral, recommended tools, expected communication and expected documentation. The theme actual ICP held threee merging subthemes: the handover processes, collaborative information seeking, information communicated and referral processes.

Conclusion: This study showed that what was expected was not what was actually happening. The requirements of the policies and protocols need to be effectively implemented to improve practice building these into current biomedical guidelines.

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Author affiliations

Doreen K.M. M'Rithaa, Information Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology South Africa and Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Sue Fawcus, Mowbray Maternity Hospital South Africa and Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Mikko Korpela, Information Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa and School of Computing, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
Retha De la Harpe, Information Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa



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ISSN: 2071-2928 (print) | ISSN: 2071-2936 (online)

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