Women’s and communities’ views of targeted educational interventions to reduce unnecessary caesarean section: a qualitative evidence synthesis

Kingdon, Carol orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5958-9257, Downe, Soo orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2848-2550 and Betran, Ana Pilar (2018) Women’s and communities’ views of targeted educational interventions to reduce unnecessary caesarean section: a qualitative evidence synthesis. Reproductive Health, 15 . p. 130.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12978-018-0570-z


Background: There is continued debate about the role of women and communities in influencing rising rates of
caesarean section (CS). In settings where CS rates exceed recommended levels, mothers and babies are exposed to
potential harms that may outweigh the potential benefits. There is therefore a need to understand how educational
interventions targeted at women and communities to reduce unnecessary CS are perceived and used. This qualitative
evidence synthesis aimed to explore what women and communities say about the barriers and facilitators to
intervention effectiveness for these important groups.
Method: Seven electronic databases were searched using predefined search terms. Studies reporting qualitative data
pertaining to interventions, published between 1985 and March 2017, with no language restriction were sought. Study
quality was independently assessed by two authors before qualitative evidence synthesis was undertaken using an
interpretive, meta-ethnography approach. Resulting Statements of Findings were assessed using GRADE-CERQual, and
summarised thematically.
Results: Twelve studies were included. They were published between 2001 and 2016. Eleven were from high-income
countries. Twelve Summaries of Findings encompassed the data, and were graded (moderate or high) on CerQual. The
Statements of Findings are reported under three final themes: 1) Mutability of women’s and communities’ beliefs
about birth; 2) Multiplicity of individual information needs about birth; 3) Interactions with health professionals
and influence of healthcare system on actual birth method. Women and communities value educational interventions
that include opportunities for dialogue, are individualised (including acknowledgement of previous birth experiences),
and are consistent with available clinical care and the advice of the health professional they come into contact with.
Conclusion: Women’s values and preferences for birth, and for information format and content, vary across
populations, and evolves in individual women over time. Interactions with health professionals and health
system factors can partly be responsible for changes in views. Educational interventions should take into account
these dynamic interactions, as well as the women’s need for emotional support and dialogue with professionals
alongside information about birth. Further research is required to test these findings and the utility of their practical
application, particularly in medium and low income settings.

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