Objective: To examine the determinants of nurses' intentions to practice continuous labor support.
Design: A descriptive survey based on the Theory of Planned Behavior.
Setting: A large, urban Canadian hospital with 2 sites and 7,000 births per year.
Participants: Ninety-seven registered nurses from 2 birthing units.
Results: Scores measuring nurses' attitudes, subjective norms, and intentions regarding continuous labor support for women with epidural analgesia were significantly lower than those for women without epidural analgesia (p<.0001). Multiple regression analyses revealed that previous labor support courses, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control explained 55% of the variance in nurses' intentions to provide continuous labor support to women without epidural analgesia while 88% of the variance in intentions to provide continuous labor support to women with epidural analgesia was explained by subjective norms and attitudes. Subjective norms made the most significant contribution to the variance in nurses' intentions to provide continuous labor support. Top perceived organizational barriers to continuous labor support included unit acuity and method of patient assignment.
Conclusion: Nurses' intentions to provide continuous labor support are lower for women receiving epidural analgesia and are influenced by the perceived social pressures on their unit. Nurses view organizational barriers as important factors influencing their ability to provide continuous labor support.