Telephone triage and midwifery: A scoping review
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BACKGROUND: Midwives use telephone triage to provide advice and support to childbearing women, and to manage access to maternity services. Telephone triage practises are important in the provision of accurate, timely and appropriate health care. Despite this, there has been very little research investigating this area of midwifery practice. AIM: To explore midwives and telephone triage practises; and to discuss the relevant findings for midwives managing telephone calls from women. METHODS: A five-stage process for conducting scoping reviews was employed. Searches of relevant databases as well as grey literature, and reference lists from included studies were carried out. FINDINGS: A total of 11 publications were included. Thematic analysis was used to identify key concepts. We grouped these key concepts into four emergent themes: purpose of telephone triage, expectations of the midwife, challenges of telephone triage, and achieving quality in telephone triage. DISCUSSION: Telephone triage from a midwifery perspective is a complex multi-faceted process influenced by many internal and external factors. Midwives face many challenges when balancing the needs of the woman, the health service, and their own workloads. Primary research in this area of practice is limited. CONCLUSION: Further research to explore midwives' perceptions of their role, investigate processes and tools midwives use, evaluate training programs, and examine outcomes of women triaged is needed.
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