• The objective of this study was to measure the relationship between women’s ratings of partners’ participation during labour and maternal outcomes as measured by anxiety level, pain perception, dosage of pain-relieving drug used and length of labour.
• A convenience sample of 45 primigravid women was selected from the postpartum unit of a public hospital in Hong Kong. They were all first-time Chinese mothers, aged 18 or over, who had attended antenatal classes and had their partners present during labour.
• The State Scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was used to measure maternal anxiety during labour. Labour pain was measured by the Visual Analogue Scale. A series of scales were developed to measure partners’ participation during labour.
• Women’s ratings of partners’ practical support were significantly lower than their ratings of partners’ emotional support. There were no significant associations between level of emotional support and maternal outcome measures. However, perceived practical support was positively related to the dosage of pain-relieving drug used and total length of labour. Positive relationships between the duration of partners’ presence and women’s ratings of perceived support provided by partners during labour were also found.