The Effect of Childbirth Self-Efficacy on Perinatal Outcomes

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Objective:To synthesize and critique the quantitative literature on measuring childbirth self-efficacy and the effect of childbirth self-efficacy on perinatal outcomes.Data Sources:Eligible studies were identified through searches of MEDLINE, CINAHL, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases.Study Selection:Published research articles that used a tool explicitly intended to measure childbirth self-efficacy and that examined outcomes within the perinatal period were included. All articles were in English and were published in peer-reviewed journals.Data Extraction:First author, country, year of publication, reference and definition of childbirth self-efficacy, measurement of childbirth self-efficacy, sample recruitment and retention, sample characteristics, study design, interventions (with experimental and quasiexperimental studies), and perinatal outcomes were extracted and summarized.Data Synthesis:Of 619 publications, 23 studies published between 1983 and 2015 met inclusion criteria and were critiqued and synthesized in this review.Conclusion:There is overall consistency in how childbirth self-efficacy is defined and measured among studies, which facilitates comparison and synthesis. Our findings suggest that increased childbirth self-efficacy is associated with a wide variety of improved perinatal outcomes. Moreover, there is evidence that childbirth self-efficacy is a psychosocial factor that can be modified through various efficacy-enhancing interventions. Future researchers will be able to build knowledge in this area through (a) use of experimental and quasiexperimental design, (b) recruitment and retention of more diverse samples, (c) explicit reporting of definitions of terms (e.g., high risk), (d) investigation of interventions that increase childbirth self-efficacy during pregnancy, and (e) investigation about how childbirth self-efficacy–enhancing interventions might lead to decreased active labor pain and suffering. Exploratory research should continue to examine the potential association between higher prenatal childbirth self-efficacy and improved early parenting outcomes.

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