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The Representation of Childbirth and Early Labour: A Multi-Modal Analysis of Media Discourses

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

PhD studentship - The Representation of Childbirth and Early Labour: A Multi-Modal Analysis of Media Discourses

Would you like to work with leading scholars in the field of media and midwifery?

We are looking for a PhD candidate who is passionate about media or midwifery and willing to learn about the other. Cultural perceptions and societal attitudes are known to influence women’s decisions about when to enter hospital in labour. The media plays a vital role in contextualizing and re-contextualizing important discourses of the day to its various audiences. Its role is to integrate the audience (members of society) into certain agreed norms, and to continually reinforce these. Media has a social responsibility to report and reflect on social issues in a responsible and ethical manner, yet such a responsibility has not been explored in relation to birth. This PhD studentship will advance our understanding of the relationship between the media, culture and health-related behaviour and develop a media intervention, which will be built around an educational resource for media professionals.

This is a fully-funded PhD studentship which includes a stipend of £14,000 each year to support your living costs.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2017

Location:

Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus

Duration:

36 months

Entry requirements:

Entry requirements: Preferably a 1st class honours degree and/or a relevant Master's degree with distinction or equivalent Grade Point Average. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Project details

The media plays a vital role in contextualizing and re-contextualizing important discourses of the day to its various audiences. Its role is to integrate the audience (members of society) into certain agreed norms, and to continually reinforce these. Media has a social responsibility to report and reflect on social issues in a responsible and ethical manner, yet cultural perceptions and societal attitudes have been shown to influence women’s decisions about when to enter hospital in labour. Nearly 45% of pregnant women are admitted to UK hospitals in early labour each year. Of those, 54% receive medical interventions in the form of electronic monitoring, epidurals and caesareans, costing the NHS nearly half a billion pounds p/a (NHS 2013). The media is increasingly important as most women will only witness birth through the ‘eye of a television camera’ but reportedly take their cues on when to enter hospital based on what they have seen on television (Luce et al., 2016). This supervisory team’s recent systematic review, the third most accessed & downloaded article for BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth in 2016, found that unrealistic media representations have the potential to influence women’s behaviour around birth.

Building on the experience of a successful media tool for suicide (Luce, 2016), the studentship will develop and validate an innovative, societal intervention to address the problem of admission in early labour. The media-based intervention will be theoretically informed and developed through:

  • Discourse Analysis—of newspapers and television programmes to determine the common discourses around childbirth and early labour in the media
  • Focus groups with women and families - to determine how media representations of labour and birth are interpreted.
  • Interview engagement with media producers - to determine whether the media can be harnessed to correct misinformation and change the discourse around labour and birth.
  • Stakeholder workshop – to validate the tools for the media intervention.

The studentship will advance our understanding of the relationship between the media, culture and health-related behaviour and develop a media intervention, which will be built around an educational resource for media professionals. Changing behaviour requires a complex intervention, thus this resource will be tested via a stakeholder workshop, towards the end of the studentship. The specifics of the intervention will be determined by the findings of the qualitative work, but it is expected that professional guidelines would be created in an effort to change the way that birth is represented in popular television programmes. It has been suggested that the media play a significant role in influencing health-seeking behaviour in childbirth; the aim of this research is to help media portray childbirth in a more responsible and ethical manner. The supervisory team has experience of developing a similar resource for media professionals in relation to Media Reporting of Suicide (WHO, 2008, 2017) and Blogging Guidelines for Suicide, both of which have proved successful (IASP and SAVE, 2017).

View the full project description here.

The closing date for applications is 10 May 2017.

Supervisors

Dr Ann Luce

Dr. Ann Luce is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Communication. She is former Programme Leader of the BA in Communication and Media degree 2012-2015, and also teaches across the School of Journalism, English and Communication, specifically on the BA in Multi-Media Journalism.

Ann is a practicing journalist and academic. She is author of The Bridgend Suicides: Suicide and the Media, recently published by Palgrave MacMillan. Her most recent piece of journalism was the creation of a touch-doc focused on the award winning documentary, The Engineer by Mathew Charles and Juan Luis Passarelli. The app won The People's Choice Award at the 2013 New Media Writing Awards.

Ann worked for nearly 10 years in newspaper and magazine journalism in the United States. When she left journalism, she was the youngest Editorial Writer on a daily newspaper in the United States. She predominantly worked as a full-time investigative journalist and a short-stint as a Business reporter.

One of Ann's most notable pieces of journalism was investigating suicide rates in Florida, which eventually garnered support for the creation of the Office of Suicide Prevention and Drug Control in the State of Florida.

Professor Vanora Hundley

I am an experienced midwifery researcher and have led a range of studies in the reproductive health field both in the UK and internationally. I trained as a nurse and midwife in Glasgow, Scotland, and have since worked in England, Hungary and the USA.

My research methods expertise is in program evaluation, questionnaire surveys and in measuring consumer preferences for models of care. I conducted one of the first randomised controlled trials (RCT) of midwife-led care, which forms part of the Cochrane review of birth settings. More recent work has examined the role of labour practices and their impact on maternal and neonatal outcomes, both in low income and high income countries. Examples include a systematic review of clean birth kits (CBKs) and their role in the prevention of maternal and newborn mortality in low income countries, and a cluster RCT of a decision tool to support midwives caring for women in early labour.

Passionate about research utilisation, I am also a Faculty Fellow at the Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy, based in the USA, examining how best to disseminate Cochrane reviews.

Professor Edwin van Teijlingen

I am trained as a medical sociologist and I have an interest in mixed-methods research, qualitative research and evaluation research. A large share of my academic work has been in the field of either Public Health or the Organisation of Maternity Care. I have substantial research experience in conducting large-scale comparative studies, often using mixed-methods approaches.

I have been involved in evaluating large-scale community-based public-health interventions in Scotland funded by, for example, the Chief Scientist Office (Scottish Government, Edinburgh), the Wellcome Trust, and NHS Health Scotland.

I have has also published on various aspects of research methods in a format easily accessible to a lay audience, including a paper on research ethics published in a midwifery journal. My overseas¿ research is largely based in Nepal.

We are involved in the evaluation of a community-based project funded by Green Tara Trust (UK-based Buddhist charity) tries to improve the uptake of antenatal care.

Funding

A fully-funded Studentship includes a maintenance grant of £14,000 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months.

Associated costs, such as for fieldwork and conference attendance, will also be met under the Studentship.

Academic Support

When undertaking a research degree at BU, you will develop research skills in your specific project area and discipline, and you will also have an opportunity to develop wider, transferable skills which will assist in your future employment, whether within or outside academia.

The Researcher Development Framework, developed by the Graduate School in line with the Research Councils UK (RCUK), will enable you to enhance your abilities in areas which are not necessarily discipline-specific.

An added benefit is the opportunity to meet researchers from other academic schools at BU through the activities of our Graduate School and benefit from their experiences, skills, and perspectives.

Full entry requirements

For fully funded studentships candidates must demonstrate outstanding academic potential with preferably a 1st class honours degree and/or a Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent Grade Point Average.

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful completion.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally: 

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

How to apply

Click the green ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the page and complete the online application form. You can find further guidance about applying for a postgraduate research degree in our Postgraduate Research section.

The closing date for applications is 10 May 2017.

Careers

A research degree can open new career opportunities in commercial research and development, consultancy, or could lead you to starting your own business. You may alternatively consider a career in academia. You may wish to undertake research to contribute to your knowledge of a specialist subject, or develop your employability by enhancing your skills in project management and analysis.

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