The role of self-criticism and self-compassion in the development of PTSD among midwives

Irina Linetsky, Keren Grinberg, Michal Granot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Healthcare providers might develop emotional distress following direct and indirect exposure to traumatic events. Evidence shows that midwives, who care for women in complicated situations, are often exposed to circumstances that have a potential to lead to a variety of psychological reactions, including symptoms identified with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nevertheless, the positive-healthy context in which childbirth is mainly perceived raises questions regarding the protective role of personality traits, which are related to processing methods of stress and pain, in the development of PTSD among this unique population. This study aimed to explore the associations between traits such as self-compassion, self-criticism, resilience, cognitive thinking, and pain catastrophizing and PTSD symptoms among Israeli midwives. Setting: Using a quantitative cross-sectional study,123 midwives from ten hospitals in Israel anonymously reported their characteristics and severity of stress and/or PTSD symptoms by filling out the Psychopathy Checklist questionnaire. Analysis of personality traits was performed via the following questionnaires: Self-Compassion Scale - Short Form, Depressive Experiences Questionnaire - Self Criticism, and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. Additionally, we measured the level of catastrophizing pain by employing the Pain Catastrophizing Scale questionnaire. Findings: Most of the midwives reported existing post-trauma symptoms, among them 11.38% had been diagnosed with PTSD. Severity of the PTSD correlated with their self-criticism and the pain catastrophizing rates. Additional examination of the involvement of personality traits showed that midwives with high self-criticism, low mental resilience, besides a high rate of pain catastrophizing, were more vulnerable to developing PTSD. Conclusions: The findings can help to refine the understanding regarding the involvement of midwives' personality characteristics in the process of PTSD onset. Vulnerable midwives have been identified as those at risk to develop PTSD symptoms. Implications for practice: The clinical significance of these insights is to promote the ability to identify midwives who are at risk to develop PTSD. Furthermore, this information might help to produce training programs and a support network to empower self-compassion and mental resilience, and to minimize self-criticism in order establish a support network, which would help to deal with the difficult experiences they face at work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103932
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024


  • Midwives
  • Pain catastrophizing
  • PTSD
  • Self-compassion
  • Self-criticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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