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ABSTRACT

Fetal monitoring is a routine procedure overseen by labor and delivery nurses and upon which they exert considerable influence. There is a discrepancy, however, between the type of fetal monitoring routinely used and the evidence provided by current research and professional organization recommendations. This study provides the first look at labor and delivery nurses' attitudes toward fetal monitoring in more than 20 years. A descriptive, correlational study was conducted at five southeastern Michigan hospitals to evaluate attitudes toward intermittent fetal monitoring and the effect of selected demographic variables on their attitudes. Of the labor and delivery nurses who participated (N = 145), 72.4% agreed that intermittent fetal monitoring should be the standard of care. Although 87% of the respondents stated that they were willing to provide intermittent monitoring, 53.9% indicated that nurse/patient ratios were a problem in providing this service. Nurses' attitudes were significantly influenced by education level (P = .004), and 48% were unsure about current research findings related to intermittent auscultation. Nurses have a positive attitude toward intermittent monitoring, although safe nurse/patient ratios and clear policies need to be addressed. Lack of knowledge regarding the current evidence and other barriers may contribute to intermittent auscultation not being used routinely, despite the fact that its use for women of low obstetrical risk is supported by current research and professional organizations.