Original Research

Self-perceived competency of midwives in Kenya: A descriptive cross-sectional study

Edna C. Tallam, Doreen Kaura, Robert Mash
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3477 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3477 | © 2022 Edna C. Tallam, Doreen Kaura, Robert Mash | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 February 2022 | Published: 14 December 2022

About the author(s)

Edna C. Tallam, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Nursing Council of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
Doreen Kaura, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Robert Mash, Department of Family and Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: Midwifery competence is demonstrated in the context of midwifery education, regulation and practice to support the quality delivery of care to women. Midwives with appropriate competencies can deliver up to 80% of maternal health services. The pre-service education programmes in Kenya offers different midwifery competencies for the various programmes, influencing expected outcomes in practice.

Aim: This study aimed to assess midwives’ perceived level of competence based on the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) standards in Kenya.

Setting: The study was conducted in selected public health facilities in Kenya.

Methods: An observational cross-sectional design was used. A multi-stage sampling technique was used to select the counties and health facilities and random sampling to determine 576 midwives. Data were collected using a self-administered assessment tool adopted from the ICM competency domains.

Results: A total of 495 (85.9%) midwife respondents participated in this study, of which 389 (78.6%) respondents in all training categories were highly competent in the four ICM domains. The midwives’ qualifications and facility level were associated with their self-perceived competence during practice. Those trained in the direct-entry midwifery programme were more competent, p = 0.016 (Kruskal wallis H = 8.432).

Conclusion: Midwives’ competence was influenced by the level of education and facility where they practice. All pre-service midwifery programme graduates must meet the essential ICM competencies and need to enhance continuous professional development (CPD) programmes and facility-based mentorship for the midwives.

Contribution: To optimise midwifery-led practice in primary health care, midwifery competence should be enhanced in pre-service and in-service education for improved health outcomes.


midwifery; nurse-midwife; education; competence; competency


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