Patient and Provider Perceptions of Decision Making About Use of Epidural Analgesia During Childbirth: A Thematic Analysis

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Abstract

This study examines the nature of differences in perceptions of decision making between patients and providers about use of epidural analgesia during labor. Thematic analysis was used to identify patterns in written survey responses from 14 patients, 13 labor nurses, and 7 obstetrician-gynecologists. Results revealed patients attempted to place themselves in an informed role in decision making and sought respect for their decisions. Some providers demonstrated paternalism and a tendency to steer patients in the direction of their own preferences. Nurses observed various pressures on decision making, reinforcing the importance of patients being supported to make an informed choice. Differences in perceptions suggest need for improvement in communication and shared decision-making practices related to epidural analgesia use in labor.

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