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Keywords:

  • childbirth;
  • coping;
  • education;
  • midwifery;
  • randomised controlled trial;
  • self-efficacy

Aim and objective.  To test the effectiveness of an efficacy-enhancing educational intervention to promote women’s self-efficacy for childbirth and coping ability in reducing anxiety and pain during labour.

Background.  The evidence of the effective application of the self-efficacy theory in health-promoting interventions has been well established. Little effort has been made by health professionals to integrate self-efficacy theory into childbirth care.

Design.  Randomised controlled trial.

Methods.  An efficacy-enhancing educational intervention based on Bandura’s self-efficacy theory was evaluated. The eligible Chinese first-time pregnant women were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (n = 60) or a control group (n = 73). The experimental group received two 90-minute sessions of the educational programme in between the 33rd–35th weeks of pregnancy. Follow-up assessments on outcome measures were conducted within 48 hours after delivery. The short form of the Chinese Childbirth Self-Efficacy Inventory was used to measure maternal self-efficacy prior to labour. Evaluation of pain and anxiety during the three stages of labour and performance of coping behaviour during labour were measured by the Visual Analogue Scale and Childbirth Coping Behaviour Scale respectively.

Results.  The experimental group was significantly more likely than the control group to demonstrate higher levels of self-efficacy for childbirth (p < 0·0001), lower perceived anxiety (p < 0·001, early stage and p = 0·02, middle stage) and pain (p < 0·01, early stage and p = 0·01, middle stage) and greater performance of coping behaviour during labour (p < 0·01).

Conclusions.  The educational intervention based on Bandura’s self-efficacy theory is effective in promoting pregnant women’s self-efficacy for childbirth and reducing their perceived pain and anxiety in the first two stages of labour.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Relief of pain and anxiety is an important issue for both women and childbirth health professionals. The efficacy-enhancing educational intervention should be further developed and integrated into childbirth educational interventions for promoting women’s coping ability during childbirth.