Uncharted territory: a narrative review of parental involvement in decision-making about late preterm and early term delivery
Almost 30% of live births in England and Wales occur late preterm or early term (LPET) and are associated with increased risks of adverse health outcomes throughout the lifespan. However, very little is known about the decision-making processes concerning planned LPET births or the involvement of parents in these. This aim of this paper is to review the evidence on parental involvement in obstetric decision-making in general, to consider what can be extrapolated to decisions about LPET delivery, and to suggest directions for further research.
A comprehensive, narrative review of relevant literature was conducted using Medline, MIDIRS, PsycInfo and CINAHL databases. Appropriate search terms were combined with Boolean operators to ensure the following broad areas were included: obstetric decision-making, parental involvement, late preterm and early term birth, and mode of delivery.
This review suggests that parents’ preferences with respect to their inclusion in decision-making vary. Most mothers prefer sharing decision-making with their clinicians and up to half are dissatisfied with the extent of their involvement. Clinicians’ opinions on the limits of parental involvement, especially where the safety of mother or baby is potentially compromised, are highly influential in the obstetric decision-making process. Other important factors include contextual factors (such as the nature of the issue under discussion and the presence or absence of relevant medical indications for a requested intervention), demographic and other individual characteristics (such as ethnicity and parity), the quality of communication; and the information provided to parents.
This review highlights the overarching need to explore how decisions about potential LPET delivery may be reached in order to maximise the satisfaction of mothers and fathers with their involvement in the decision-making process whilst simultaneously enabling clinicians both to minimise the number of LPET births and to optimise the wellbeing of women and babies.
University of Leicester as part of the Leicester City Football Club programme of research in child health
Author affiliationDepartment of Population Health Sciences, University of Leicester
- VoR (Version of Record)