Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Migrant Polish women overcoming communication challenges in Scottish maternity services: a qualitative descriptive study.

Crowther, Susan; Lau, Annie


Susan Crowther

Annie Lau


Background: Migrant women are more likely to experience sub-optimal maternity outcomes and are often described in a problematised way. Communication is crucial in maternity and can be compromised if the language of that service is delivered in a language incomprehensible to migrant women. Methods: Qualitative descriptive study using 9 in-depth individual interviews with Polish women who recently had experience of local maternity services. Recorded interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed. A salutogenic conceptual framework was adopted for data analysis. Findings: Three descriptive themes: ‘Communication and understanding’, ‘Relationships matter’ and Values and expectations’. Seven related subthemes where identified. Discussion: Vulnerability in this study is understood as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure to situations that are not understandable. Applying a salutogenic lens to analysis reveals the significance of quality communication, relationship and culturally sensitive practices as ways of mitigating feelings of vulnerability in the host country. Antonovski’s Sense of Coherence’ (SoC) highlights migrant women’s ability to comprehend and capacity to understand their unique experiences of communication challenges. Participant’s psychosocial, cultural, and individual beliefs reveal an ability to trust maternity systems that are different from their own cultural values and help them move towards a Sense of Coherence (SOC) and face their vulnerability. Conclusion: Working with migrant women requires a salutary focus. Maternity care professionals involved in the care of this population need to consider individual internal and external resources and avoid treating migrant women as a problematic group. Maternity care provision needs to acknowledge migrant women’s strengths, values and expectations and adapt local services. This is done by addressing individual woman’s needs through a salutary focus, person-centredness and a system of care that values relationships and social connectedness.


CROWTHER, S. and LAU, A. 2019. Migrant Polish women overcoming communication challenges in Scottish maternity services: a qualitative descriptive study. Midwifery [online], 72, pages 30-38. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 6, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 7, 2019
Publication Date May 31, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 2, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 8, 2020
Journal Midwifery
Print ISSN 0266-6138
Electronic ISSN 1532-3099
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 72
Pages 30-38
Keywords Communication; Language; Maternity; Migrants; Polish; Salutogenesis
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations