Training and expertise in undertaking assisted vaginal delivery (AVD): a mixed methods systematic review of practitioners views and experiences

Feeley, Claire Lauren orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8013-0352, Crossland, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1063-8123, Betran, Ana Pila, Weeks, Andrew, Downe, Soo orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2848-2550 and Kingdon, Carol orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5958-9257 (2021) Training and expertise in undertaking assisted vaginal delivery (AVD): a mixed methods systematic review of practitioners views and experiences. Reproductive Health, 18 (1). p. 92. ISSN 1742-4755

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Abstract: Background: During childbirth, complications may arise which necessitate an expedited delivery of the fetus. One option is instrumental assistance (forceps or a vacuum-cup), which, if used with skill and sensitivity, can improve maternal/neonatal outcomes. This review aimed to understand the core competencies and expertise required for skilled use in AVD in conjunction with reviewing potential barriers and facilitators to gaining competency and expertise, from the point of view of maternity care practitioners, funders and policy makers. Methods: A mixed methods systematic review was undertaken in five databases. Inclusion criteria were primary studies reporting views, opinions, perspectives and experiences of the target group in relation to the expertise, training, behaviours and competencies required for optimal AVD, barriers and facilitators to achieving practitioner competencies, and to the implementation of appropriate training. Quality appraisal was carried out on included studies. A mixed-methods convergent synthesis was carried out, and the findings were subjected to GRADE-CERQual assessment of confidence. Results: 31 papers, reporting on 27 studies and published 1985–2020 were included. Studies included qualitative designs (3), mixed methods (3), and quantitative surveys (21). The majority (23) were from high-income countries, two from upper-middle income countries, one from a lower-income country: one survey included 111 low-middle countries. Confidence in the 10 statements of findings was mostly low, with one exception (moderate confidence). The review found that AVD competency comprises of inter-related skill sets including non-technical skills (e.g. behaviours), general clinical skills; and specific technical skills associated with particular instrument use. We found that practitioners needed and welcomed additional specific training, where a combination of teaching methods were used, to gain skills and confidence in this field. Clinical mentorship, and observing others confidently using the full range of instruments, was also required, and valued, to develop competency and expertise in AVD. However, concerns regarding poor outcomes and litigation were also raised. Conclusion: Access to specific AVD training, using a combination of teaching methods. Complements, but does not replace, close clinical mentorship from experts who are positive about AVD, and opportunities to practice emerging AVD skills with supportive supervision. Further research is required to ascertain effective modalities for wider training, education, and supportive supervision for optimal AVD use.

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