Nurses' Own Birth Experiences Influence Labor Support Attitudes and Behaviors

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Objective:To describe the attitudes of intrapartum nurses about the importance of and intent to provide professional labor support (PLS); barriers to PLS, such as perceived subjective norms and perceived behavioral control; and relationships among attitudes, behaviors, and nurse and site characteristics.Design:A cross-sectional, mixed-methods, descriptive design was guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior.Setting:Three hospital sites in one region of a single Midwestern state.Participants:Sixty intrapartum nurses participated.Methods:The Labor Support Questionnaire and demographic questionnaire were administered online. The Labor Support Questionnaire is used to measure attitudes about the importance of and intended behaviors associated with labor support.Results:Nurse Caring Behaviors was the highest rated PLS dimension. Participants' own personal birth experiences and length of current intrapartum experience were positively correlated with attitudes about and intent to provide PLS. Barriers to PLS included staffing, documentation, physicians, use of epidural analgesia, doulas, and birth plans.Conclusion:Personal birth and work experience influenced attitudes about and intent to provide PLS and demonstrated the relationships described in the Theory of Planned Behavior. Intrapartum nurses may benefit from an examination of their personal experiences to see how they might influence attitudes about PLS. Enhanced training and expanded labor and birth experience for novice nurses or students may improve attitudes and intended behavior with regard to PLS. Further investigations of the factors that affect integration of PLS into care are important to promote healthy birth outcomes.

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