Enabling women to make informed decisions is a crucial component of consumer-focused maternity care. Current evidence suggests that health care practitioners' communication of care options may not facilitate patient involvement in decision-making. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of specific variations in health caregiver communication on women's preferences for induction of labor for prolonged pregnancy.
A convenience sample of 595 female participants read a hypothetical scenario in which an obstetrician discusses induction of labor with a pregnant woman. Information provided on induction and the degree of encouragement for the woman's involvement in decision-making was manipulated to create four experimental conditions. Participants indicated preference with respect to induction, their perceptions of the quality of information received, and other potential moderating factors.
Participants who received information that was directive in favor of medical intervention were significantly more likely to prefer induction than those given nondirective information. No effect of level of involvement in decision-making was found. Participants' general trust in doctors moderated the relationship between health caregiver communication and preferences for induction, such that the influence of information provided on preferences for induction differed across levels of involvement in decision-making for women with a low trust in doctors, but not for those with high trust. Many women were not aware of the level of information required to make an informed decision.
Our findings highlight the potential value of strategies such as patient decision aids and health care professional education to improve the quality of information available to women and their capacity for informed decision-making during pregnancy and birth. (BIRTH 39:3 September 2012)