Managing the pain of labour: Factors associated with the use of labour pain management for pregnant Australian women

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health Expectations, 2015, 18 (5), pp. 1633 - 1644
Issue Date:
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© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Background: Despite high rates of women's use of intrapartum pain management techniques, little is known about the factors that influence such use. Objective: Examine the determinants associated with women's use of labour pain management. Design: Cross-sectional survey of a substudy of women from the 'young' cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health (ALSWH). Setting and participants: Women aged 31-35years who identified as being pregnant or recently given birth in the 2009 ALSWH survey (n=2445) were recruited for the substudy. The substudy survey was completed by 1835 women (RR=79.2%). Main variables studied: Determinants examined included pregnancy health and maternity care [including complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)] for their most recent pregnancy and any previous pregnancies. Participants' attitudes and beliefs related to both CAM and maternity care were also included in the analysis. Main outcome measures: The outcome measures examined were the use of both pharmacological and non-pharmacological pain management techniques (NPMT). Results: Differences were seen in the effects of demographics, health service utilization, health status, use of CAM, and attitudes and beliefs upon use of intrapartum pain management techniques across all categories. The only variable that was identified as a determinant for use of all types of pain management techniques was a previous caesarean section (CS). Discussion and conclusions: The effect of key determinants on women's use of pain management techniques differs significantly, and, other than CS, no one determinant is clearly influential in the use of all pain management options.
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