Inter-hospital and inter-disciplinary variation in planned birth practices and readiness for change: a survey study

BioMed Central
Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2021, 21, (1), pp. 1-15
Issue Date:
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Background How the application of evidence to planned birth practices, induction of labour (IOL) and prelabour caesarean (CS), differs between Australian maternity units remains poorly understood. Perceptions of readiness for practice change and resources to implement change in individual units are also unclear. Aim To identify inter-hospital and inter-professional variations in relation to current planned birth practices and readiness for change, reported by clinicians in 7 maternity units. Method Custom-created survey of maternity staff at 7 Sydney hospitals, with questions about women’s engagement with decision making, indications for planned birth, timing of birth and readiness for change. Responses from midwives and medical staff, and from each hospital, were compared. Findings Of 245 completed surveys (27% response rate), 78% were midwives and 22% medical staff. Substantial inter-hospital variation was noted for stated planned birth indication, timing, women’s involvement in decision-making practices, as well as in staff perceptions of their unit’s readiness for change. Overall, 48% (range 31–64%) and 64% (range 39–89%) agreed on a need to change their unit’s caesarean and induction practices respectively. The three units where greatest need for change was perceived also had least readiness for change in terms of leadership, culture, and resources. Regarding inter-disciplinary variation, medical staff were more likely than midwifery staff to believe women were appropriately informed and less likely to believe unit practice change was required. Conclusion Planned birth practices and change readiness varied between participating hospitals and professional groups. Hospitals with greatest perceived need for change perceived least resources to implement such change.
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