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Women's Attitudes Toward Mode of Delivery in South Korea—a Society with High Cesarean Section Rates

Authors


  • Sang-Il Lee, Young-Ho Khang, and Moo-Song Lee are Professors of Preventive Medicine at the University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

  • Financial support for this study was provided by the Asan Institute for Life Science, Seoul, Korea.

* Professor Young-Ho Khang, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388-1 Pungnap-2Dong Songpa-Gu, Seoul, 138-736, Korea.

Abstract

Abstract: Background: In South Korea, cesarean section rates (i.e., the proportion of all live births delivered by cesarean section) approached 40 percent in 2000. The relative contribution of physicians and women to this high rate has been a source of debate. This study explored attitudes toward mode of delivery among South Korean women. Methods: A nationwide cross-sectional telephone survey of 505 Korean women aged 20 to 49 years was conducted using a proportionate quota and systematic random sampling method. The response rate was 57.3 percent. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire consisting of 7 questions about vaginal and cesarean delivery. Results: Over 95 percent of women preferred vaginal delivery during pregnancy and were willing to recommend this method to others. Of the women who delivered by cesarean section, 10.6 percent stated that they had requested a cesarean birth. Attitudes toward vaginal or cesarean delivery differed significantly according to a woman's education level. Conclusions: Most study participants showed more favorable attitudes toward vaginal delivery than cesarean delivery. This result does not support the assumption that the upsurge of cesarean section rates in South Korea is associated with women's positive attitudes toward cesarean section. The main cause of the rapid rise of cesarean section rates in South Korea during the past two decades have its origins in health care practitioners and the health care system in which they work.

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