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5 minutes with Rebecca Whybrow

Dr Rebecca Whybrow, Lecturer in Midwifery at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care is an experienced midwife and researcher. She specialises in high-risk pregnancies, shared decision-making and health service policy. Rebecca’s recent research has developed a decision aid, which helps pregnant women with high blood pressure.

Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point.

I trained as a midwife here at King’s and went on to practice at King’s College Hospital. I then studied Public Policy and Management in the King’s Business School, alongside practicing as a midwife. I was seconded to King’s as a midwifery tutor which opened the door to undertaking a PhD in Women’s Health with Professor Jane Sandall and Professor Lucy Chappell with an honorary contract at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust. Most recently, I have worked as the government’s Maternity Safety Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care. I re-joined King’s this year to focus on my post-doctoral research in the Methodologies division in the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care.


Could you tell us more about your recent research that aims to improve shared decision-making for pregnant women?

I carried out a mixed methods evaluation of maternity care for women with chronic high blood pressure in pregnancy. I found women were conflicted about taking their medication and around half did not want to take prescribed medication to treat chronic high blood pressure. I aimed to co-design, implement and evaluate a new shared decision-making intervention. The intervention included infographics to support in-consultation decision making, a patient decision aid and training for healthcare professionals. The intervention significantly reduced conflicts in decision making and in three quarters of women, this was a clinically important reduction. The intervention also increased women’s intention to take medication to treat chronic high blood pressure from 52% to 96%. The shared-decision making aids have been endorsed by NICE and are included in their Hypertension in Pregnancy guidelines.

If you could make one change to health and social care policy what would it be?

To help retain the excellent nurses and midwives in the NHS, and to keep university applications high, they need better pay. Pay has fallen in real terms over the last ten years, and with rising inflation, real term pay continues to fall.

What is your favourite part of your role?

Post-doctoral research is an incredible opportunity to deliver innovation nationally and internationally. I enjoy identifying gaps in knowledge, as well as clinical and policy challenges, and going on to make change through my research.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

I would ask my younger self to have more belief in my academic abilities. I have learnt over the years that people aren’t born academic, it comes with education, training and a lot of effort. To excel, you need to learn to fail effectively, and by this, I mean learning and growing from your mistakes. We all make mistakes; it is what you do next that matters.

What do you do with your time outside of work?

I have a six- and three-year-old, so much of my time is spent with them. When I get time, I enjoy live music and theatre. I love to eat out in the amazing restaurants Brighton and Hove have to offer and if had more time I would sea swim daily.

Quick Fire…

What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid? I wanted to be a nurse!

Who inspires you most and why? Dr Mary Elizabeth Carnegie was an incredible nurse, academic and activist. She affected change at the highest-level, championing racial equality in nursing.

Ideal dinner guest? Queen Elizabeth II, I am sure she would have some incredible stories to tell.

What’s one thing about you that surprises people? I used to personal train several celebrities including Linda Grey from Dallas!

Favourite way to spend a day? Hanging out on my local the beach with friends and family

What’s your hidden talent? I was a competitive gymnast and still have a few tricks up my sleeve.

In this story

Rebecca  Whybrow

Rebecca Whybrow

Lecturer in Midwifery

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