A qualitative analysis of parturients’ perspectives on neuraxial labor analgesia

Center for Healthcare Equity/Institute for Healthcare Studies, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: .
International journal of obstetric anesthesia (Impact Factor: 1.6). 02/2013; 22(2). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijoa.2012.11.003
Source: PubMed


The decision to use, or not use, neuraxial analgesia is complex and likely multi-factorial. The objectives of this study were to understand parturients' concerns about neuraxial analgesia, and the reasons for not anticipating the use of neuraxial analgesia using qualitative methodology.

English-speaking, term parturients, who had not requested or received labor analgesia, were recruited for this mixed-methods study. In addition to a quantitative survey, the results of which have been published elsewhere, women were asked open-ended questions regarding concerns about neuraxial analgesia and reasons for not anticipating its use. Answers were recorded verbatim and analyzed using qualitative methodology.

Interviews were conducted with 509 women. Thirty-nine percent of patients expressed some concern about neuraxial analgesia. These concerns were thematically represented by misunderstandings about neuraxial analgesia, general fears about the procedure, and lack of trust in providers. Many of the concerns were misunderstandings that were not supported by the medical literature. Of the 129 patients who did not anticipate using neuraxial analgesia, 23% stated that this was because they desired a natural childbirth and/or control over their labor experience, whereas 46% cited concerns about the procedure and its complications as the basis for their decision.

Many women who anticipate not using neuraxial analgesia may be basing their decision on an inaccurate understanding of the risks of the procedure. Improved patient education and counseling that target specific areas of concern may address these misunderstandings.

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