Date of Publication
Dr. Carol Buck-Rolland, Ed.D., APRN; Martha Churchill, MSN, CNM
Background: Continuous labor support is a feature of high quality maternal healthcare, yet access to doulas is not universal. Hospital-based doula programs can minimize barriers to continuous labor support, and evaluation of hospital-based doula programs is needed. This project evaluated a pilot volunteer doula program at an academic medical center.
Methods: Sign-in process monitored volunteer activity. Likert scale surveys measured participant (RN and doula) perspectives. Likert scale surveys with a comment section measured patient experience. Survey results and sign-in sheets were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Patient comments were assessed for themes using NVivo software.
Results: Volunteer doulas (VD) (n=74) supported 92 patients within 6 months (approximately 8.2% of total births during the period). Among RNs and VDs, average perception of support given to the patient was rated 4/5. Forty-two surveys were given to patients who received volunteer doula support, and 23 responses were received (54% response rate). All patient respondents (n=23) rated feeling supported during labor as “most important” (5/5). Ninety one percent of respondents “strongly agree” (5/5) they felt supported by the VD, and that the VD helped them to have a positive experience. Comment analysis revealed three themes: describing the doula, expressing gratitude for the program, and explaining how the doula helped.
Conclusions: The volunteer program increased access to continuous labor support, and patient response suggests positive experiences. Perspectives of nurses and volunteers during the pilot stage explores buy-in and guides improvements. Given these findings, the impact of this program on labor and delivery care was positive.
Wulff, Kiersten A., "Evaluating a Hospital-Based Volunteer Doula Program in Vermont" (2020). College of Nursing and Health Sciences Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Project Publications. 44.