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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Birth after caesarean : an investigation of decision-making for mode of delivery Munro, Sarah


Background: Clinical practice guidelines indicate that over 80% of women with a previous caesarean should be offered a planned vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC), however only one third of eligible women choose to plan a VBAC. Shared decision-making (SDM) interventions support women to make choices based on their informed preferences. To facilitate implementation of SDM it is necessary to understand the patient (micro), health services (meso), and policy (macro) factors that influence decision-making. Objectives: My objective is to explore attitudes toward and experiences with decision-making for mode of birth after caesarean section in British Columbia (BC) to identify factors that influence implementation of SDM. Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with women eligible for VBAC, care providers, and health service decision makers recruited from three rural and two urban BC communities. Integrated knowledge translation (iKT) principles guided study design, while constructivist grounded theory informed iterative data collection and analysis. Findings were interpreted using complex adaptive systems theory (CAS). Results: Analysis of interviews (n=57) and CAS interpretation revealed that the factors influencing decisions resulted from interactions between the micro, meso, and macro levels of the health care system. Women formed early preferences for mode of delivery (after the primary caesarean) through careful deliberation of the social risks and benefits of mode of delivery. Physicians acted as information providers of clinical risks and benefits, with limited discussion of patient preferences. Decision makers serving large hospitals revealed concerns related to liability and patient safety. These stemmed from limited access to surgical resources, which had resulted from budget constraints. To facilitate mutual understanding among stakeholder groups, iKT activities included policy dialogues and the creation of a policy brief. Conclusion: To facilitate the effective implementation of SDM in clinical practice for mode of delivery after a previous caesarean section, it is necessary to address the needs of women, care providers, and decision makers. These include initiating decision support immediately after the primary caesarean, assisting women to address the social risks that influence their preferences, managing perceptions of risk related to patient safety and litigation among physicians, and access to surgical resources.

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