Apple Tree Maternity: A Qualitative Exploration of the Development of a Rural Collaborative Interprofessional Maternity Care Service


Emma J. Butt, RM, and Jude Kornelsen, PhD



Introduction: There is currently a maternity care crisis in Canada, with many of the obstetricians and family physicians reaching retirement age in the next 10 years. Primary midwifery care services may offer solutions. However, due to the many constraints and difficulties faced by midwives practicing in rural settings, there is an emerging interest in exploring interprofessional collaborative models of maternity care as a possible solution to the crisis. This study documents the process and experiences of care providers in establishing and providing collaborative interprofessional maternity care in rural British Columbia.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with key stakeholders (primary care providers and allied health professionals) working at Apple Tree Maternity. Interviewees spoke to both the process of establishing a new collaborative interprofessional model of care and the experience of working and providing care within the model.

Findings: Four main themes emerged through the dialogue with the stakeholders: motivation for collaboration; challenges and barriers to collaborative care; attributes and benefits of collaborative care; and core qualities and recommendations for successful interprofessional collaboration. Based on their experience of establishing and working within a new model of collaborative, interprofessional, rural maternity care, the study participants identified core qualities and recommendations for successful interprofessional collaboration in a rural community to be mutual trust and respect; common philosophy of care, mutual commitment, and genuine desire to collaborate; clear and effective communication; ensuring the collaborative model is responsive to the unique needs of specific communities; community support; supportive institutional culture; and alternative payment plans and billing structures.

Conclusion and implications for practice: This study revealed a number of attributes to collaboration that mirror those identified by others. In addition, study participants identified particular challenges unique to the rural context. Further research documenting the care provider experiences of interprofessional collaboration in other rural settings is warranted. In addition, there is also a need to explore and document the experiences of collaborative practice, in both rural and urban settings, from the client perspective. It is only when this is achieved that significant policy change suggestions should be made that will facilitate both collaborative practice and an improvement in care to women in rural settings. The need for this research is vital given the maternity care crisis in British Columbia and the need for supporting sustainable rural maternity care models.



Interprofessional maternity care, rural maternity care, collaborative care, qualitative research interviewing


This article has been peer reviewed.


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