Failure or Progress? the current state of professionalisation of Midwifery in Europe

Joeri Vermeulen, Ans Luyben, Rhona O'Connell, Patricia Mackin (now Gillen), Ramon Escuriet, Valerie Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Throughout Europe midwives called for increasing professionalisation of midwifery during the 1980s and 1990s. While the Bologna Declaration, in 1999, supported this development in education and research, it remains unclear how other fields, such as practice, have fared so far. This study therefore aimed to explore the current state of professionalisation of midwifery in Europe.

An exploratory inquiry was conducted with an on-line semistructured questionnaire. Its content was based on the Greenwood sociological criteria for a profession. Descriptive statistics and thematic content analysis were used to analyse the data. Participants were national delegates from member countries to the European Midwives Association.

Delegates from 29 European countries took part. In most countries, progress towards professionalisation of midwifery has been made through the move of education into higher education, coupled with opportunities for postgraduate education and research. Lack of progress was noted, in particular in regard to midwifery practice, regulation, and leadership in health care provision and education. Most countries had a code of ethics for midwives as well as a midwifery association. Based on organisational collaborations with other disciplines, the sustainability of a distinct professional culture was unclear. An increased focus on future development of midwifery practice was proposed.

Progress in midwifery education and research has taken place. However, midwives’ current roles in practice as well as leadership and their influence on healthcare culture and politics are matters of concern. Future efforts for advancing professionalisation in Europe should focus on the challenges in these areas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Midwifery
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 17 Dec 2019


  • education
  • midwives
  • Profession
  • health care
  • Midwifery
  • Maternity care


Dive into the research topics of 'Failure or Progress? the current state of professionalisation of Midwifery in Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this