Midwife Diaries Personal Statement School Psychology

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Psychology Personal Statement

From an early age I have been intrigued by the human mind and how it works. This interest has been enhanced through my study of psychology. Although I have only studied this subject for a relatively short period of time, I have enjoyed the variety the A-level course provides and I feel I have had a sample of different fields of this subject...

Earlier this year I was involved in a car accident, and as I sat among the wreckage I was shocked to see not one person stopped to help me. Didn’t anyone care enough to help? If it weren’t for the science of Psychology, this and so many other questions about human behaviour would go unanswered...

Psychology Personal Statement

Psychology surrounds us. I often observe my class mates and ask myself why they are so different, struggling with attention or eating disorders. While looking for reasons, I also want to find ways to help them and I am confident that Psychology will give me the means to do so...

Thousands have tried to make their personal statement, witty and exciting, but have failed to make the grade. Again and again admissions tutors have bowed their heads in disappointment in not finding that special something needed to make it different from everyone else's...

Psychology Personal Statement

One of the great things about psychology is that it can be applied in mostly any situation, which truly makes it one of the most interesting subjects I have studied. I am amazed at how many theories and concepts there are, all about how the mind works to shape people into what makes them, them...

Psychology Personal Statement

It was the odd behavioural traits displayed by my uncle, who has Asperger’s syndrome that first generated from a young age my questioning about why he acted so ‘differently’ to the rest of us. This was part of what led to my interest of studying psychology, as it made me question how and why humans are so disparate from one another, and what part the brain plays in running our everyday lives...

English Language and Psychology Personal Statement

I hold a rooted enthusiasm for English Language; its history, its functions within society and its cultural influences, and I am happy to see that the course provides many of these aspects and there inter-connectedness...

Psychology Personal Statement

Keeping up to date with world news online, aroused my interest in psychology . I was particularly captivated by the articles about abnormal behaviour such as self-harm; one of the reasons for this being the alarming rise in the number of victims over the years, which made me curious about its causes ...

Psychology encapsulates every aspect of our lives. From childhood, the reasons behind why we do what we do has fascinated me; and when I was disciplined for the type of mischief that one commits at a young age, my reasoning for my actions were always “To see what would happen...

English and Psychology Personal Statement

It seems that the greatest situational irony is encountered in life itself. For this reason I chose to study English Literature. Language is ceaseless and boundless and its only limits stem from the conscious decisions of the author, hence, every literary device and subtle inference is valid...

Psychology Personal Statement

There are very few things that are as interesting yet as confusing as the unique enigma that is the human brain. Our diverse behaviours and our intricate personalities that make us who we are must have a cause...

Human, Social & Political Sciences Personal Statement

When I was a child my favorite place was the airport. I love the confusion inside it,listening to many different languages and seeing different cultures meet in only one place. I consider that my interest for the social movement arise from that place...

Psychology Personal Statement

Sigmund Freud - “Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.” There are few other things that arouse greater fascination than the human mind itself, its complexity and the mystery which enshrouds it has always appealed to me, which is why it is my dream to study psychology at university...

Psychology Personal Statement

“If she’s smart she will study Medicine.” This is an unwritten rule in my culture - all Nigerian parents want their children to become doctors. What becomes of the aspiring psychologist in the family? I met a junior doctor, at an educational conference, who wanted to specialise in psychiatry...

Psychology Personal Statement

We know so much for certain about the human anatomy, but when it comes to Psychology even the line between the brain and the mind is blurred. Psychology interests me because nothing is ever certain. Even when it comes to the treatment of individual illnesses, there is no set way of treating a patient, and often it is only a mix of many approaches that can solve an issue entirely...

What particularly captivated me towards working in the area of psychological background is when my younger brother started speaking to his 'imaginary friend'. From observation I noticed he would become aggressive, often throw temper tantrums as he was not able to express himself through neither words nor thoughts...

Psychology Personal Statement

‘We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate it, it oppresses.’ When I first read this passage by Carl G. Jung, I couldn’t absorb it until the time when I tried to deter one boy from bullying the others in my class at middle school...

Criminology & Applied Psychology Personal Statement

In October of 1993 I came across a recruitment advert in my local newspaper describing the role of the 'Special Constable' and by the time I had finished reading, I was eager to apply. The following February I was sworn in at my local Magistrates Court and that is where my interest in the subjects that I am now applying to study at University first began, trying to understand what influences and motivates people's behaviour in favour of crime and witnessing first hand the effects that this behaviour has on our society...

Psychology Personal Statement I have been fascinated by the human mind and how it works since my early teenage years. My interest in understanding the mind and behaviour has been enhanced through studying psychology at A level...

Psychology Personal Statement

To study psychology at university would mean going to school every day being excited and eager to learn something I have a passion for. The study of the mind, how people behave and why they do fascinates me...

The constant sense of discovery is what I find most captivating about Psychology: looking at an individual's pretentious behaviour in an analytical way allows me to glance at the world in a new and contemporary angle...

Ever since my little sister became a teenager and started going through her rebellious phrase I just haven't been able to help myself from analysing her behaviour. Although she grew out of her moody phase my interest in Psychology didn't change and I find that I regularly am examining the behaviour of different members of my family...

I first realised I wanted to study Psychology when studying Drama, because in order to portray characters I had to understand their mind and develop their personality. I found the differences in characters were so vast that it made me want to understand these variations...

Psychology Personal Statement

I first realised I wanted to study Psychology in high school after studying Drama. In order to further understand my character I had to understand their mind and develop their personality. I found the differences in characters were so vast that it made me want to study Psychology to comprehend these distinctions...

Psychology Personal Statement

Ever since I grew out of adolescence, and watched my little sister begin her life, I just couldn't stop myself from analysing her behaviour. My little sister grew older and her behaviour and mood phases swung like a pendulum...

Psychology Personal Statement

For a long time now I have been interested in the subject of psychology. The way people behave and why they do certain things has always fascinated me and after thoroughly enjoying studying the subject at A level I would like to continue to further my knowledge and study psychology at a higher level...

Psychology Personal Statement

As a person with dyslexia, has made me want to further understanding the way this disability works and the affects of nature / nurture has. While many people may consider dyslexia as a hindrance, I believe knowledge for this subject it has made me yearn for more to understand and better...

I have always been fascinated by people and the way they behave, but it is only as I have grown older and become more aware of psychology that I have begun to question why people are the way they are, why they interact differently with other people and why we all take a different approach to certain situations...

Why do humans act the way they do? It seems a simple question, but you're as likely to know the answer as you are to learn of the meaning of life. But that doesn't mean we don't try. When I applied for college, I took Psychology simply because I was curious, but now, it enthrals me; studying the different theories put forward as to why we do certain things, or why we don't; delving into the minds of the depressed, the murderous or the deranged and generally trying to explain the things we do unconsciously, like conform...

Counselling Psychology Personal Statement

As I sit here at my desk, trying to figure out how to write a brilliant essay to be better recognized throughout this application process, I have come to realize that this is what life is about. We are all given a blank sheet in the beginning...

Psychology Personal Statement

On the day of my 15th birthday I realised I had a week in which to decide where I should go for work experience after a lot of thought I chose a placement at Queens Park Special Needs school.From here on I have remained captivated by the mystifying aspects of mental illness in childhood...

Psychology Personal Statement

Personal Statement My passion for psychology is deeply rooted in my interest in philosophy, epistemology and the understanding of human happiness. I sincerely believe in the practical benefits of a life spent helping others, fully investing in the cultivation of empathy and compassion...

I remember the day my class-fellows - a few good chaps and I on our way back home after classes. It was a cold evening in 1997 as far as I remember and we were 16 years of age. Everyday after school we walked the same path...

Psychology Personal Statement

Studying Psychology the past two years has enabled me to not only develop a great understanding of human behaviour but also to appreciate the scientific processes involved. My main interest in Psychology began when I went to a conference in Manchester...

What motivates humans to behave in the ways we do? Are there external factors which need to be taken into consideration? Or perhaps we should take more of an internal approach? The study of the mind and behaviour attempts to answer these questions, and if it was not for this versatile science, a lot of questions would be left unanswered...

I would say that from an early age I have been interested in psychology but that would be a lie. I first became interested in Psychology at about ten, when brother got in to trouble and many other disruptions happened in my family...

Psychology and Education Personal Statement

Childcare, as well as Psychology has fascinated me in all aspects of my school education and this motivated me to enter 6th form; the A levels that I took were based around the mental development of young children...

Psychology & Criminology Personal Statement

I have often thought myself to be a lucky individual: My Grandfather was a detective in the Lancashire constabulary many years ago, and when I was a child I was often graced with countless stories from his crime fighting days...

My deep interest in psychology started to develop after I read the books "Owl in Love" and "Woman in the Wall" by Patrice Kindl. Of course, being only twelve years old at the time, I was far from grasping the true depth of the characters and the complex psychological net Kindl had been able to weave...

People often refer to mathematics as an art as well as a science and I can really understand and see what they mean by this; the number line is so complex and artistic in patterns that spring up and vast area of different topics that crop up in mathematics...

Psychology Personal Statement

When school finishes this year I wish to go on to University to study Psychology. In spite of never having studied it previously I know I have a desire to study it in a lot of depth. I feel my interest first came about when I was 11 years old...

Psychology Personal Statement

It is human nature to question, to want to unearth the knowledge we do not have; an area of discovery I find most intriguing is in the study of and exploration into the nature of the human mind. There are so many areas of psychology that interest me and make me determined to learn more about, such as the science behind memory and cognition, the emotion and reasoning behind motivation and perception, and how all aspects intertwine to form who we are, what we know, and what we believe...

Criminal Psychology Personal Statement

“Half of all criminals re-offend within the year was the headline of a recent article in the “Daily Telegraph. The article went on to say that, according to the Ministry of Justice, half a million crimes are committed each year by serial offenders who have left prison or are starting community service...

Psychology Personal Statement

My interest in philosophy began when I was a child, I was startled to be alive and I was puzzled about the way life had seemed to creep up on me. I have always found my mind to be drawn to certain thoughts, while waiting for my birthdays I would rationalise my way round the frustration of waiting by thinking that time always comes no matter what, my father told me I would waste my life away thinking like that...

Psychology Personal Statement

As long as I can remember I have always been fascinated with the mental health system. The allure of watching old movies depicting mental asylums as a mysterious and disturbing sanctuary of unwanted human beings left me wanting to know more...

Psychology Personal Statement

My passion for psychology began when an experience on a plane with severe turbulence made me think about the irrational fear I was experiencing. The Science of Psychology helped me realise, that my fear of flying was not abnormal but simply a learned emotional response to a situation that provoked intense and terrifying thoughts...

Philosophy & Psychology Personal Statement

In today's world, everyone is a philosopher. How can one not be, with an intake of information greater than any previous generation? We are bombarded with words and ideas, pictures and concepts. This data has rarely been publicly questioned in centuries past yet today the media compels everyone to ask the question: why? And I am no different...

Psychology Personal Statement

To say that I've been interested in psychology since I was young would be a lie. For a long time I've been interested in the natural sciences and wrote psychology off as a subject with little scientific merit...

Everything we do involves psychology; the natural techniques we use to develop our strengths and ways we learn to surpass our weaknesses has been an interest of mine since high school, By watching others gaining their characteristics and personal skills I have been gravitated towards psychology ever since...

Psychology Personal Statement

Discovering the mind in its complex form and the different ways people behave are what intrigues me about the study of Psychology. The fact that Psychology never has a straight answer and continuously opens new doors to fresh and existing research draws my attention to this ever changing science...

Psychology Personal Statement

In everyday life, people take for granted that some people are good at things and some people are not. But I have always believed that human beings are capable of far more than they realise. It is this interest in human potential that motivates me to want to work as an Educational Psychologist...

Studying Psychology I hope to be the beginnings of a challenging and rewarding career. I look forward to working with and helping others in all ranges of psychological instances. A great achievement would be to work within psychological study...

Having my first child at the age of seventeen temporarily prevented me from furthering my education; however, psychology has always been the subject that I knew I wanted to study and take up as a profession...

Psychology Personal Statement

My fascination in Psychology and Social Science derives from various personal experiences, and the observation others around me. Having appreciated the trilogy of Dave Pelzer, I am intrigued to develop an understanding of the effects that social factors have on individuals, and, how human behaviour, in hindsight, provides key evidence to the operation of the psyche...

Psychology Personal Statement

MJ has been a student of Evanjelicke Gymnazium J. A. Komenskeho since September 2004. It is a bilingual Slovak-English high school aimed at preparing students for higher education. Admission to this school is restricted to students with remarkable school results; that she was admitted is in itself evidence of her excellent academic abilities...

Psychology and French Personal Statement

At the age of seventeen, I won an ASSIST scholarship that gave me the opportunity to spend a full academic year at a prestigious private American high school, which perfected my English to the extent of winning the school, local, and regional round of English Olympics...

What is life, but an endless chain of riddles? Actually, I believe the chain stretches far beyond any living creature's lifespan, beyond words and imagination. As we progress, we find ourselves facing the most curious of questions...

Psychology and Sociology Personal Statement

Child Psychology and the daily social factors that children endure are things that have captured my interest in numerous ways. When children play together out on the playground; the hierarchy they create among themselves as well as the types of games they deem acceptable is the way in which they cope with their everchanging worlds...

Psychology & Philosophy Personal Statement

Who am I? This is possibly the most ambiguous question, whereby a hidden depth of meaning is drowned by a trivialized sense of simplicity. I could merely reveal my name, but would that really portray who I was? “We become ourselves through others” claims Vygotsky, but are we all just conformists? Are our personalities just embedded in our genes? Do we act the way we do because we want to? Is it free will which makes us who we are? Debates such as nature v...

Psychology Personal Statement

I have always been intrigued by what goes around in peoples minds. I was a odd child who always managed to be an outsider and invariably observed others. Why some people act the way they do. Why people choose certain things and eliminate others...

Social Psychology Personal Statement

After several changes of life expectancies and goals, now I'm in front of a very important starting point of my new goal. Studying social and organizational psychology in a highly developed and scientifically designed place is my aim now...

When in life can you truly say you enjoy what you do? Far too many times you hear people talking of ‘enduring’ their work, or ‘getting by’ in life, far too seldom do we actually hear of people savouring it, being enthused by it, enjoying it! This is what divides a good student from a passing student, actually enjoying what they do, and this is my aim not just for my studies but for my working life as well, to find fulfilment in and actual relish my work – this may seem like a common aspiration, but so few ever achieve it! Both of my parents work and have always worked in the care industry, they posses very select and specialised characteristics that allow them to be the best at their jobs that they can be, so from an early age I have been seeped in an environment of complex psychology about mental ability, counselling and stigma...

Psychology Personal Statement

Marathon, Madness or Pleasure? What motivates a person to run 42 195 meters under a burning sun, on a hot summer’s day with a temperature of around 40 degrees Celsius? Well, it is a justified question if you’re not a fan of long distance running or if you are a student in the field of psychology...

Psychology Personal Statement

The sheer breadth of psychology appeals to me as there seems to be a range of exciting topics to explore. I find myself engaged with this vibrant subject and enjoy reading about its various branches. A quote by Alfred Marshall, the famous economist, best explains my choice for this subject...

Psychology Personal Statement

Since embarking on the A level course 16 months ago I have decided to devote my life to working in Psychology. I am struck by the way Psychological research has impacted all areas of life, but also how much there is yet to understand...

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it." (Oscar Wilde) The role temptation plays within the context of the criminal psyche, is a matter which compels my inquisitive and analytical mind to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding...

Psychology Personal Statement

My whole life can be defined from one psychology term to another. For most of my life I’ve had a turbulent upbringing. My father lives in Southern Ireland as he and my mother separated when I was 3. And I was bought up as an only child in a dysfunctional single parent household...

Human Sciences Personal Statement

Perhaps what makes me different from other University applicants is that I have ambition to understand multidimensional human life. It is not the appeal of a top qualification or the zesty student lifestyle that attracts me to this course; but it is the long-term knowledge and answers to interdisciplinary human problems, and the enigmas that I will commit a lifetime investigating with perhaps no solution, that inspires me to apply...

Sports Psychology Personal Statement

At age ten I had been to 12 different countries, across 3 continents, getting a taste of a multiculturalism that would taint my life to the present day. The experience of a nomadic upbringing It inspired analysis from a young age...

Psychology Personal Statement

There is a reason behind everything we do, a purpose to our actions. The cognition behind any decision that we make is one of the many aspects of psychology that I am fascinated by. The following five words, as said by the Prophet Muhammad, I believe explain such a suggestion: "Actions are but by intentions"...

Developmental Psychology Personal Statement

My academic goal is to be a cutting-edge expertise in psychology. Choosing to walk down such a path in life is not something that occurred to me yesterday or the day before. My undergraduate and master-oriented graduate studies have given me well knowledge in both preschool education and developmental psychology...

Psychology and Criminology Personal Statement

The golden question seems to be why human beings behave the way that they do – a simple question yet a question that millions have failed to answer. Before taking Psychology as an A level, naivety allowed me to believe that the answer to this question was seemingly transparent...

As a social species the lives of human beings revolve around the interactions we have with one another, so surely an interest in people and their behaviour is a natural curiosity? As we grow up in society we subconsciously study human behaviour so we can understand people and fit in; in this way I believe we are all psychologists...

Psychology Personal Statement

Studying psychology will be the beginning of my journey to a challenging, fascinating and gratifying career. Since I was quite young I have aspired to work in a caring role, and more recently in the area of mental health...

Psychology Personal Statement

In early 2011 I worked as a fundraiser, required to approach and convince pedestrians to become a member of a German aid organisation. While working in this position I saw thousands of people and talked to hundreds...

Psychology and Biology Personal Statement

Studying an academic Science at university has been the ultimate ambition since turning fifteen after dissecting a heart and realising that this vital organ – just like science it self – is the core of life, as without it where would we be? I have discovered the sciences to be entirely fascinating as these subjects offer the explanations to our very survival both mentally and physically...

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark”. I have always been fascinated by the idea that even one tiny incident could be a huge influence on a child...

Psychology and Counselling Personal Statement

Personal statement 'Nurture shapes nature' - Albert Bandura. Does society determine who we are? Moving to a new country and experiencing such a culture shock made my future seem somewhat bleak, but it wasn't my demise...

Psychology Personal Statement

I was in an early age when I first came across the term psychology. Even before I knew that this field exists, I was interested in how our mind processes information and how it is interlinked with other system of the body...

Psychology Personal Statement

Curiosity and amazement of the world has led me to want to understand what the reasoning is to why we learn, and why the consequence of reinforcement produces the repetition of behaviour, either positive or negative...

I have sat in audiences at the theatre and felt a sense of freedom. At times of stress I played my flute until day turned to night. Painting offers me a window into my imagination and opens a door to escapism...

Neuroscience/Psychology Personal Statement

I was a young girl, walking through a large hall, full of strange noises and intimidating looking interior, holding my mother’s hand as we were “going to see Aunt Anne”. The large hall was in St Edwards Psychiatric hospital and the strange noises I still can’t decipher, however I remember this being the moment something clicked for me, I remember it being the moment my intrigue in psychology began...

Neuroscience Personal Statement

The application of scientific knowledge to understanding how humans, and the creatures around us, function and react with each other has always been a source of wonder to me. The opportunity to combine a scientific understanding of processes and structure of the nervous system and brain with knowledge of applications relevant to our own behaviour, including those of a clinical kind, makes neuroscience such an attractive prospect to me...

Psychology Personal Statement

After my first lesson I knew Psychology was the subject that I wanted to take further. It showed me that the human mind is an intricate puzzle which is almost impossible to solve; yet every day we try to explain and discover why humans behave the way we do...

As a childcare worker looking after 3-4 year olds, I'm constantly being asked "why" and, although I love the times when I can give an answer, I especially love the times when I can't. I'm a person whose motto is "learn one new thing everyday", which makes every new "why" another adventure, a new journey of discovery - both for me and the children in my care...

Neuroscience Personal Statement

A momentary break from extreme stress led to my first major “aha” moment. Out of nowhere, my brain is suddenly overtaken by an electric explosion of informational assimilation. Well I guess not out of nowhere, Ooman et al...

There are little things as scary as a brush with death. I had a close call as a young child, one that landed me a ride in an ambulance and a visit to the emergency room. Blunt trauma and impact seizures, usually are not very forgiving...

Psychology Personal Statement

Having a brother with dyslexia I have seen first-hand over many years the coping and learning strategies he was forced to develop in order to help him overcome his disability, these concepts were and still are very intriguing to me...

Why do people commit acts which are contrary to the law? Why do some individuals turn out to be aggressive and violent while others are not? Is it really true that some individuals are neurologically more susceptible or predisposed to be violent, aggressive and engage in risky behaviors than others or are they just the by-products of their environment? These were the questions that have been plaguing me for a very long time because of the distressing circumstances I had as a child...

Psychology Personal Statement

My work experience in year 10 is what solidified my decision to work with children, particularly those with mental illness: I was inspired by a child who was suspected of having ADHD at the pre-school I worked at...

Psychology Personal Statement

Dear Sir/Madam, I would like to apply for a postgraduate conversion course in Psychology at the Glasgow Caledonian University. First of all, I have a great interest in the subject and would like to study it academically...

Psychology Personal Statement (Masters)

My enthusiasm to study psychology began as a child due to living with an alcoholic. Through observing and being around someone with such a social problem I was gaining first hand experience of what it was like to live with someone with an addiction...

Psychology Personal Statement

Psychology is ubiquitous in society. Because of the mercurial nature of humans, there is always something different to study and analyse. I find this exciting. Part of what draws me to psychology is how the dynamics of it affect daily life and behaviour...

We are all psychologists; we observe people everywhere that we go. We make decisions constantly influenced by stereotypes and perceptions of people. I am keen to find out why we do it. Is it an innate ability or is it through interactional learning? From an early age I have always been interested in Psychology to try and find answers to questions that some say are unanswerable...

Psychology Personal Statement

I first became interested in Psychology whilst discussing the underlying causes of criminal behaviour and non-conformity with my father. The nature-nurture debate gave me a huge desire to increase my knowledge and understanding of the human condition...

Psychology Personal Statement

For me human beings have always been fascinating, and even mysterious, because, though we are all humans, we all think differently and behave so differently. I wonder why those impoverished people who live with little can have a happy life, whereas some millionaires who have status, reputation and money choose to commit suicide...

Almost four years ago, when I started my undergraduate studies in(school name) the only thing in mind was that Psychology is all about treating people with psychological problems. I never knew that there was field in Psychology specifically about quantitative methods and psychometrics...

Psychology Personal Statement

Quid est homo? Why do different people act dissimilarly in the same situations? Why are some people affected by mental illness (like my mother) and others are not? These and other questions have aroused my interest in the only subject that can answer these issues - Psychology...

Psychology Personal Statement

The mind is incredibly intriguing to me, how it differs throughout age, culture and gender and how each approach gives an equally arguable explanation for its development. My motivation to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health is what first introduced me to the adventurously knowledgeable world of Psychology...

Psychology Personal Statement

Every day life involves psychology; the mind has extraordinary abilities. Man is now surrounded by billions of other humans, so curiosity of how we interact can only be human? My curiosity of human interaction first budded from watching my sister begin her life...

Psychology Personal Statement

How do the components of one's human psyche truly shape interactions within a changing society? Is "evil" born, or a response to societal factors? The many atrocities that are occurring in the world right now, from the Syrian civil war to the murder of Lee Rigby - is there a root cause to why they are happening? The versatility of Psychology is a significant component of why I want to study it at university, in the sense that it is current and can be applied to real world contexts: crime, child development, even how we think! I yearn to decipher the complexities and intricacies of human nature, and a Psychology degree will illustrate these in such a robust way that I will be able to obtain the satisfactory solutions I have craved for, concerning the world and myself...

Psychology Personal Statement

In preparation for university I am currently studying an Arts and Humanities award. As a mature student this SWAP course has provided a comprehensive model for the transition, developing my skills in mathematics, academic writing and critical thinking...

Philosophy/Psychology

Rational people are motivated primarily by incentives for self-fulfillment, not only to satisfy their own self-development, but also to feel useful and helpful to others. With these prerequisites in mind, it follows that university study is a valid and effective option to satisfying these means...

Psychology Personal Statement

My aspiration to study Psychology has developed from my curiosity of how our mental processing and genetic makeup affects not only our actions and decisions made in everyday life, but also our personalities...

Background. Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death are not uncommon events within the UK. There is substantial evidence that parents experience such loss as intensely painful (Gold, 2007), yet there appears to be little recognition of the potential impact on those staff providing care. Indeed staff are encouraged to be emotionally giving to the bereaved family (Kohner, 2007). Understanding the potential impact of such work may help staff better look after themselves and the women and families under thei

Evidence Based Midwifery: September 2008

Sonya Wallbank1 BSc. Noelle Robertson2 D Clin Psy.
1 Clinical psychologist in training, School of Psychology, University of Leciester, 104 Regent Road, Leicester LE1 7LT England. Email:
sw164@le.ac.uk
2 Senior lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Leicester, 104 Regent Road, Leicester LE1 7LT England. Email: nr6@leicester.ac.uk


Abstract

Background. Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death are not uncommon events within the UK. There is substantial evidence that parents experience such loss as intensely painful (Gold, 2007), yet there appears to be little recognition of the potential impact on those staff providing care. Indeed staff are encouraged to be emotionally giving to the bereaved family (Kohner, 2007). Understanding the potential impact of such work may help staff better look after themselves and the women and families under their care.
Aim. To explore what is known about the psychological responses of midwifery and nursing staff to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss in their workplace.
Method. A systematic narrative synthesis of qualitative literature, exploring midwifery and nursing staff responses to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss was undertaken. The principles of transparency and systematicity (Meyrick, 2006) were used to analyse the literature, and content analysis was utilised to elicit themes.
Conclusion. Theoretical and conceptual frameworks to understand staff experiences are largely absent; nevertheless evidence suggests that midwives and nurses appear to experience significant and personal adverse effects as a result of caring for
families experiencing loss. Staff regard the support they have for this type of work as lacking and, while collegial support is welcomed, it does not appear to protect staff from adverse effects. The need to provide empathetic interactions is demanding for staff and appears to conflict with their need to protect themselves emotionally, for example, by withdrawing from the family. Further research using phenomenological methods, and more explicit use of current psychological models to understand staff distress is warranted.


Key words: Midwife, pregnancy loss, staff stress, professional grief/loss, staff reaction/morbidity, psychological distress

Introduction

Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death are not uncommon events in the UK, with 15% of known pregnancies ending in miscarriage. Ten infants are born stillborn each day and 11 die neonatally (Stillbirth and Neonatal Society [SANDS], 2006; UK Statistics Authority, 2007). There is substantial evidence that parents experience this loss as intensely painful (Gold, 2007), that their experience and needs vary widely (Kohner, 2007) and that the intensity of loss experienced does not appear to be correlated with the gestation of the infant (Gold, 2007; Lasker and Toedter, 1994; McCreight, 2005; Mander, 2006). At this very difficult time, grieving parents value the emotional support and focused attention provided by staff for mother and baby (Gold, 2007; Lasker and Toedter, 1994).

Department of Health guidelines recognise the need for families to be adequately supported. They encourage staff to engage with families emotionally and respond empathically, as well as undertaking diverse practical tasks encompassing rituals to support parental grieving, discussion of funeral or disposal arrangements and completion of paperwork (Kohner, 2007).

The challenging nature of this work, in its complexity and emotional tenor, may have a personal impact on the staff member involved and, while each loss is unique and devastating for the parent, it may be a reoccurring experience for staff. Staff may be required to set aside their own responses and simultaneously manage the varying tasks demanded by their work context and the grieving family. The balancing of these roles has been recognised as potentially precarious for the staff member, with withdrawal from the family being noted as not uncommon (Foster, 1996; Ujda and Nediksen, 2000), but possibly compromising the needs of the bereaved family.

Greater understanding of the impact of loss in these contexts can acknowledge the experience as a sad part of work (Papadatou, 2001), but can also ensure that mechanisms are in place to support staff and enhance quality of patient care, hence the current review.
‘Neonatal’ has been used to describe both perinatal and neonatal loss. The ‘perinatal’ period is defined in diverse ways and appears to relate to between the 20th and 28th week of gestation ending seven to 28 days after birth. ‘Neonatal’ relates to the period four weeks after birth. A neonatal loss involves the loss of an infant who is deemed to be alive immediately following birth.


Aims

The aim of this review is to explore what is known about the psychological responses of midwifery and nursing staff to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss in their workplace.


The review critically examines published evidence relating to psychological responses to dealing with neonatal death in the workplace, focusing on midwifery and nursing staff, synthesising the literature to produce a robust review beyond a descriptive account. Quantitative studies were initially considered to form part of the review and were screened accordingly (Deeks et al, 2003); however, none provided sufficient data to merit inclusion. This review therefore focused on the studies using qualitative methods.


Methods

Search strategy

This involved identifying key words and synonyms related to the review topic. The medical subject headings key words ‘professional: loss / grief / distress / psychological / stress / reaction-morbidity / bereavement / grief / stillbirth / miscarriage / neonatal death’ were used to interrogate the relevant databases, which were MEDLINE (1951-present), psycINFO (1887 to date) and the British nursing index (BNI) (1994 to date). Initial searches were then replicated replacing ‘professional’ with ‘staff’, then ‘nurse’ and ‘midwife’. Due to the plethora of descriptors used, references were also obtained through manual searches of relevant works.


Inclusion criteria

Papers published in English between 1887 and October 2007 (excluding books, book chapters and dissertations) were included, focusing on studies using qualitative methodology to investigate staff experiences of miscarriage, neonatal death and stillbirth, which took place within a hospital setting. The titles and abstracts of 84 papers were initially examined to determine which papers met the inclusion criteria. A total of 29 papers remained and were obtained in full. Reading of the full papers revealed that a further 20 papers did not meet the inclusion criteria (were not relevant to the topic), thus nine papers were retained for the review.


Quality considerations

Meyrick’s (2006) model was adopted to ensure that transparency and systematicity were evident throughout the research process. Transparency assesses whether all relevant research steps are disclosed to the reader (Yardley, 2000), while systematicity refers to regularity of data collection and analysis, from which any deviations are noted and justified (Meyrick, 2006).

This permitted studies to be given comprehensive consideration, outlining techniques to establish rigour at each stage and avoiding checklists, which can limit the quality assessment to the write up, ignoring methodological processes in the research phase.


Reflexivity

The authors had no explicit theoretical position in mind prior to the conduct of the review. As clinical psychologists employed in physical health settings, the authors have worked with clients who have experienced loss, and staff referred through occupational health services, and are familiar with psychological models of loss and bereavement, and organisational models used to explain staff distress.

Identification of review methodology

To synthesise literature beyond a merely descriptive account, a means of producing a systematic and methodologically robust review was required, acknowledging movement to develop concepts and theories to account for the data. Narrative synthesis was selected enabling interpretation of data under consideration, permitting higher levels of abstraction, and moving beyond an aggregate account of the data to an understanding of the processes occurring (Popay et al, 1996).
Lack of transparency has been problematic in reviews of this kind (Dixon-Woods et al, 2005), so this review explicitly details its process.


The process

Recommendations for assessing the quality of each paper as headings were constituted in a grid (Meyrick, 2006), enabling evaluation of identifiable recruitment processes; demographics, including ethnicity of the sample; credibility; findings grounded in data; systematic analysis; and use of quotes. Both authors extracted and refined themes.


Developing a preliminary synthesis

Textual descriptions, groupings and clusters, data translation and tabulation (Popay et al, 2006) were developed for preliminary synthesis (see Tables 1 and 2), with a grid constructed to identify common and contrasting themes and outcomes (see Table 2). Themes were then examined for inter-relationships and a taxonomy of findings developed (see Table 3).


Methodological overview

The majority of papers adopted a phenomenological stance, examining the respondents’ perceptions of themselves and their world. While these permitted greater understanding of individually meaningful experiences, theory generation was not addressed.

Studies reviewed were conducted in the main by researchers related to respondents, either as colleagues or supervisors, and absence of overt reflexivity within the papers makes it difficult to judge the researchers’ influence on the data. It is a matter for speculation how such pre-existing relationships might have affected data. While participants may have felt more comfortable and free to reveal the impact of work, they may equally have been cautious if uncertain how their responses would be used.
Studies appraised deployed focus groups, interviews and diaries for data collection; however, quality or impact of method could not be adequately judged because of sparse detail. Most interviews used semi-structured questionnaires without specifying structure, content or probes, so that potential priming could not be assessed. In studies using focus groups, no study considered whether group dynamics affected responses, and where respondents were asked to recall past experiences, no study considered the possibility of priming and retrospective bias (Keuler and Safer, 1999).


Use of theoretical perspectives

The most common conceptual descriptor within papers reviewed construed staff reactions as ‘grief’. Papers did not define grief and it was unclear whether the term described an affective state or process. Also, given grief is usually
conceived of as a staged, chronological process (Kubler-Ross, 1989), no study could support analysis of the process since all were cross-sectional. Where other theoretical perspectives were offered, for example McCreight’s (2005) use of ‘emotional labour’ explaining acceptability of the
professional to display emotions, it was unclear from quotes used how the researcher had determined that ‘emotion work’ offered a valid explanation of the nurses’ responses.

Epistemological positions and reflexivity

The majority of papers provided no overt coherent epistemological position. Some papers (Walpole, 2002) made their use of a phenomenological framework explicit, some are less explicit in explaining a contextual relationship of the framework to the research (Begley, 2003), and while others used respondent validation (McCreight, 2005), authors did not discuss why this had been used and with what benefit.


Methods of analysis

All studies reviewed used thematic or content analysis, with the process of theme generation varying in methodological rigour. Some studies (Nallen, 2006) deployed an explicit, robust framework, others made their triangulation of data evident (Begley, 2003). The remaining studies used content analysis on qualitative data elicited from closed questions, but were vague when considering how framing of questions affects subsequent analysis.


Sampling

Participant numbers and sampling strategy within the papers were generally not discussed, with the exception of Nallen (2006) who used ‘purposeful sampling’ and continued running focus groups until data saturation was achieved. However, selection of group members and group constitution was unclear. Overall, researchers gave little consideration to the difficulties inherent with what appeared to be opportunistic sampling, and recruitment decisions could appear capricious and were scantily reported if at all.


Transparency

Lack of transparency was evident in most studies, with insufficient detail regarding theme generation. Where theme generation was well articulated (Walpole 2002; Nallen, 2006), it remained unclear how researchers achieved consensus agreement or how external validation was sought.


Systematicity

The lack of transparency undermined assessment of systematicity. The majority of papers reviewed provided insufficient detail to identify whether or not analysis was systematically undertaken. Additionally, papers in which the epistemological position was unclear or where theme generation lacked validity suggest assumptive rather than systematic approaches to data collection and analysis.


Credibility

Two of the papers identified issues of reliability and validity (Walpole, 2002; Begley, 2003) and seek triangulation of data, potentially at odds with a phenomenological
perspective. The remaining papers lacked the information to judge credibility issues.

Use of data

Papers reviewed tended to omit information regarding cases that deviated from identified themes. While some papers (Nallen, 2006; Raeside, 2000) were explicit about ensuring that all data were included, some appeared to remove case deviants without rationale (Yam et al, 2001).


Transferability

The majority of papers failed to address transferability issues explicitly. Most papers cautioned against generalisation given the sample size, yet go on to make recommendations to the wider midwifery or nursing community despite the qualitative paradigm used and circumscribed numbers of participants involved.

Given these methodological vulnerabilities, there were some difficulties establishing meaningful weighting crit­eria for the findings without privileging only a few papers. The reviewers are therefore cautious when appraising the themes and conclusions generated. However, despite the lack of systematicity, themes generated within the papers share significant commonality allowing some confidence in the overall findings.


Impact for staff

Themes relating to the personal and adverse impact for staff were common to all of the papers and appeared to manifest in psychological, emotional and physical symptoms (Gardner, 1999; Farrell et al, 2000; Raeside, 2000; Yam et al, 2001; Walpole, 2002; Begley, 2003; Nallen, 2006). Staff consistently alluded to the need to manage their responses actively and the difficulty and ambivalence associated with a need to retain a professional persona. There appeared to be dissonance surrounding what constituted acceptable or professional displays of emotion, while trying to ensure any response was containable and appropriate. While empathising by sharing personal responses could be rewarding (McCreight, 2005), more frequently staff described feeling ‘awful because they cried with the patient’ (Raeside, 2000) and experienced staff had relayed how this ‘sort of behaviour’ was considered inappropriate (Begley, 2003).

Emotional and physical symptoms were often framed in the immediate aftermath of a neonatal death, but the impact could endure. Staff discussed a persistence of affective responses, with both professional and personal triggers. Staff could recall the experiences of a significant loss for extensive periods of time, often reflected upon with new experiences of loss in the workplace (Downey et al, 1995). Other respondents reported intrusive reflections in certain domestic contexts apparently unrelated to their experience at work (Nallen, 2006).


Professional behaviour

Understandably, midwifery and nursing staff found that the pursuit of physical care offered a zone of competence they could exercise, and drew strength from operating at this level (Walpole, 2002; Nallen, 2006). Nevertheless, most studies emphasised the need for staff to deliver psychological care, be it through basic counselling skills or more active interventions with the bereaved families, yet frequently feeling ill-equipped to do so (Gardner, 1999). Unsurprisingly, when faced with role uncertainty and a perception that they were not competent to deal with potential overwhelming material and emotion, staff retreated and withdrew. Conversely, successful interactions were reported to enhance self-efficacy (Gardner, 1999; Begley et al, 2003), yet advance planning is difficult. Losses can be unpredictable and staff must react to diverse losses being experienced by the bereaved in different ways, perhaps exacerbating what is already a difficult time and contributing to staff uncertainty of what to say and do to provide optimal psychological care.


Coping

Despite respondents in all studies discussing the difficulties implicit in their work, they reported ways of mitigating stressors. Personal coping activities were reported, using both cognitive strategies (rationalising the loss, reflection and acceptance) (Gardner, 1999; Farrell et al, 2000) and behavioural self-management (such as time away from work) (Nallen, 2006, 2007). Studies consistently articulated coping strategies contingent on relationships both within and outside the workplace. The former encompassed relating to peers for debriefing in the period immediately after loss, more general collegial support and disclosure, and the relationship with the bereaved family by offering continuing care, the latter included personal relationships. There was, however, variability in the extent of support requested by staff, with some staff wishing to give full vent to their experiences yet others finding that level of self-disclosure somewhat threatening (Begley, 2003; Nallen 2006, 2007).
Organisational factors were also

suggested as instrumental in attenuating or exacerbating the effects of neonatal loss on the staff member. Lack of time and compromised continuity of care recurred. The intense activity of the labour ward appeared to contribute negatively to the staff members’ experience of the loss (Nallen, 2006; Begley, 2003). Caring both for the bereaved and complete families required diversion of attention, could be ruptured because of other pressing demands, and quite different engagements with patients were needed to offer appropriate care. Such intrinsic role conflict and ambiguity seemed unacknowledged by employers, yet is a significant contributor to occupational stress and a factor in job dissatisfaction and propensity for job abandonment (Cordes and Dougherty, 1993).

Notable to all the accounts discussed, was the perception of limited or absent organisational support and resources. Additionally, a consistent overarching theme was that of staff isolation, with repeated expression of staff need for greater overt support, particularly given the unique demands of each bereaved family potentially requiring tailored interventions. In virtually all papers concrete suggestions for change, be it provision of protected time to reflect on loss, formal training and education on bereavement, or reviewing workload and patient allocation, were offered. While understandable and laudable, the suggestions were extrapolated from an absence of support without formal needs assessment. This would be a necessary first step before resources were diverted without assurance that their development would necessarily benefit either staff or patient care. Nevertheless, while the concept of support tended to be somewhat nebulous and lacking in specificity, its consistent request does imply some form of unmet need.

Implications of findings

The review suggests that it is not just families who experience significant distress in response to neonatal death, but staff experience distress also, with both immediate impact, and longer-term resonance. While the phenomenon is consistently described there is little attempt to frame experiences within models of staff distress, other than with reference to a grieving process that may not be appropriate. Organisational models of stress seemed little considered, which may be an artefact of methodologies focusing on personal experience and meaning; however, this lack may have reinforced staff appraisals that their emotional responses were invalid and signified unprofessional behaviour. This is certainly articulated in the studies, as is the absence of support for staff distress, which appeared barely recognised by the healthcare system.

There is growing awareness of the emotional and cognitive repercussions of staff exposure to distressing events and engagements in the workplace, evidenced by a burgeoning literature on occupational stress (Firth-Cozens and Payne, 1999) and increasing understanding of secondary or vicarious traumatisation (McCann and Pearlman, 1990; Sabin-Farrell and Turpin, 2003). Although indirect, this review evidence might suggest that painful engagement with bereaved families could be constructed in these terms. Given enhanced models to explain staff distress, it is timely to evaluate whether staff exposed to the repeated psychological pain of bereaved families, are themselves traumatised (Gold, 2007; McCreight, 2005; Mander, 2006) and might also suffer. Organisations have a duty of care to employees and in this capacity can become more aware of the potential for psychological change that could compromise patient care while considering how they can improve investment in staff.

In many of the papers, conclusions drawn from the evidence focus on the demands placed on staff and the inadequate support currently provided. Additional qualitative research embracing anthropological and sociological perspectives, seeking saturation, using sampling methods to challenge emerging themes and seeking out negative cases, could test the robustness of findings reported here as could further external review. Further research can build on these qualitative studies to provide greater detail on the prevalence of distress within current health and organisational psychological models. Such research can provide quantitative detail of the extent and type of difficulties faced by staff delivering this challenging facet of care. It can also suggest evidence- and theoretically-based interventions. These can both acknowledge emotional responses to the bereaved, thus normalising rather than pathologising staff responses, and can help evolve stepped, supportive interventions for staff who will have varying needs at different times throughout a career. In this way staff can truely be enabled to adhere to national guidance, and maintain empathic, engaged and emotionally congruent care, to help families at a most difficult time, without detriment to themselves.


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