Making Choices For Childbirth: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Decision-aid for Informed Birth after Caesarean
Background: Decision-making about mode of birth after a cesarean delivery presents challenges to women and their caregivers and requires a balance of risks and benefits according to individual circumstances. The study objective was to determine whether a decision-aid for women who have experienced previous cesarean birth facilitates informed decision-making about birth options during a subsequent pregnancy. Method: A prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial of 227 pregnant women was conducted within 3 prenatal clinics and 3 private obstetric practices in New South Wales, Australia. Women with 1 previous cesarean section and medically eligible for trial of vaginal birth were recruited at 12 to 18 weeks’ gestation; 115 were randomized to the intervention group and 112 to the control group. A decision-aid booklet describing risks and benefits of elective repeat cesarean section and trial of labor was given to intervention group women at 28 weeks’ gestation. Main outcome measures included level of knowledge, decisional conflict score, women's preference for mode of birth, and recorded mode of birth. Results: Women who received the decision-aid demonstrated a significantly greater increase in mean knowledge scores than the control group (increasing by 2.17 vs 0.42 points on a 15-point scale)(p < 0.001, 95% CI for difference = 1.15–2.35). The intervention group demonstrated a reduction in decisional conflict score (p < 0.05). The decision-aid did not significantly affect the rate of uptake of trial of labor or elective repeat cesarean section. Preferences expressed at 36 weeks were not consistent with actual birth outcomes for many women. Conclusion: A decision-aid for women facing choices about birth after cesarean section is effective in improving knowledge and reducing decisional conflict. However, little evide nce suggested that this process led to an informed choice. Strategies are required to better equip organizations and practitioners to empower women so that they can translate informed preferences into practice. Further work needs to examine ways to enhance women's power in decision-making within the doctor-patient relationship.