Using task analysis to generate evidence for strengthening midwifery education, practice, and regulation in Ethiopia

Tegbar Yigzaw*, Catherine Carr, Jelle Stekelenburg, Jos van Roosmalen, Hannah Gibson, Mintwab Gelagay, Azeb Admassu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Realizing aspirations for meeting the global reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health goals depends not only on increasing the numbers but also on improving the capability of midwifery workforce. We conducted a task analysis study to identify the needs for strengthening the midwifery workforce in Ethiopia. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of recently qualified midwives in Ethiopia. Purposively selected participants from representative geographic and practice settings completed a self-administered questionnaire, making judgments about the frequency of performance, criticality, competence, and location of training for a list of validated midwifery tasks. Using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, Version 20, we computed the percentages and averages to describe participant and practice characteristics. We identified priority preservice education gaps by considering the tasks least frequently learned in preservice, most frequently mentioned for not being trained, and had the highest not capable response. Identification of top priorities for in-service training considered tasks with highest “not capable” and “never” done responses. We determined the licensing exam blueprint by weighing the composite mean scores for frequency and criticality variables and expert rating across practice categories. Results: One hundred and thirty-eight midwives participated in the study. The majority of respondents recognized the importance of midwifery tasks (89%), felt they were capable (91.8%), reported doing them frequently (63.9%), and learned them during preservice education (56.3%). We identified competence gaps in tasks related to obstetric complications, gynecology, public health, professional duties, and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. Moreover, our study helped to determine composition of the licensing exam for university graduates. Conclusion: The task analysis indicates that midwives provide critical reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health care services and supports continuing investment in this cadre. However, there were substantial competence gaps that limit their ability to accelerate progress toward health development goals. Moreover, basing the licensure exam on task analysis helped to ground it in national practice priorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2016


  • Competence
  • Frequency of performance
  • In-service training needs
  • Licensing exam blueprint
  • Midwife
  • Perceived importance of tasks


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