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ABSTRACT

The impact of obstetric technology on the outcome of pregnancy has been evaluated by three main categories of outcome measures-those to do with mortality, physical morbidity, and “psychosocial” morbidity. There has been a marked preference among obstetricians and epidemiologists for mortality as a measure of outcome. The reasons for this situation are examined. The importance is argued of taking into account the other groups of outcomes, especially the psychosocial or so-called “soft” outcomes. Some relevant studies which have included the assessment of mothers’ attitudes to obstetric technology are cited, and the limitations of present methods of evaluating “soft” outcomes are discussed. The social evaluation and consequences of obstetric technology are placed in the broad context of the problems generated by the role of technology in modern industrialized society. (BIRTH 10:2, Summer 1983)