Influences on Decision Making Among Primiparous Women Choosing Elective Caesarean Section in the Absence of Medical Indications: Findings From a Qualitative Investigation
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OBJECTIVE: Patient-initiated elective Caesarean section (PIECS) is increasingly prevalent and is emerging as an urgent issue for individual maternity practitioners, hospitals, and policy makers, as well as for maternity patients. This qualitative study sought to explore women's experiences of the decision-making process leading to elective operative delivery without medical indication. METHODS: We conducted 17 exploratory qualitative in-depth interviews with primiparous women who had undergone a patient-initiated elective Caesarean section in the absence of any medical indication. The study took place in five hospitals (three urban, two semi-rural) in British Columbia. RESULTS: The findings revealed three themes within the process of women deciding to have a Caesarean section: the reasons for their decision, the qualities of the decision-making process, and the social context in which the decision was made. The factors that influenced a patient-initiated request for delivery by Caesarean section in participants in this study were diverse, culturally dependent, and reflective of varying degrees of emotional and evidence-based influences. CONCLUSION: PIECS is a rare but socially significant phenomenon. The a priori decision making of some women choosing PIECS does not follow the usual diagnosis-intervention trajectory, and the care provider may have to work in reverse to ensure that the patient fully understands the risks and benefits of her decision subsequent to the decision having been made, while still ensuring patient autonomy. Results from this study provide a context for a woman's request for an elective Caesarean section without medical indication, which may contribute to a more efficacious informed consent process.
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