Eliciting Preferences for Key Attributes of Intrapartum Care in The Netherlands

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Background:As part of the move toward “patient-centered care,” women's preferences with regard to maternity services have become increasingly important to policy makers. To realize optimal patient-centered care, knowledge of patients' preferences is essential. The aim of our study was to assess the strength and relative importance of women's preferences for different aspects of intrapartum care in The Netherlands, where women have easy access to both home and hospital birth.Methods:A discrete choice experiment was conducted at 16 weeks of gestation as part of a Dutch multicenter, prospective cohort study from 2007 to 2011 of low-risk, nulliparous women. Responses were analyzed per intended place of birth group: midwifery-led home (n = 191) and hospital birth (n = 152) and obstetric-led hospital birth (n = 188).Results:We analyzed 562 questionnaires. Women in all groups preferred the possibility of influencing decision making and pain-relief treatment during birth and no co-payment for childbirth. Women with an intended home birth preferred a home-like birth setting with the assistance of a midwife and transport during birth in case of complications. Type of birth setting and transport during birth were not considered important to women with an intended midwifery- or obstetric-led hospital birth.Conclusion:Policies aimed at the improvement of maternity care must take into account women's preferences for the possibility of pain-relief treatment and the fact that all women desire a high level of involvement in decision making. Furthermore, efforts to change maternity care systems must consider how to counter the culturally embedded nature of women's preferences.

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