Physicians’ Responses to Patient‐Requested Cesarean Delivery

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Background: The issue about whether a woman's autonomy in childbirth should include the choice of cesarean delivery in the absence of medical indications has become a major source of debate. Our objective was to examine factors that determined physicians’ responses to patient‐requested cesarean delivery. Methods: Surveys were distributed to all obstetrician‐gynecologists in the greater Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area in Spring, 2000. Physicians were asked to respond to scenarios involving a term patient with a singleton pregnancy requesting primary cesarean delivery. Results: One hundred and seventy of 255 physicians (67%) responded, of whom 68 to 98 percent agreed to cesarean delivery in cases with clear medical indications. Without a clear medical indication, most practitioners would not perform a cesarean delivery. In cases where medical indications were unclear, responses were divided. Physician male gender and patient high socioeconomic status were associated with increased likelihood of physician agreement to patient‐requested cesarean delivery. Age, years in practice, and practice type were not associated with agreement. Conclusions: Physicians are reluctant to agree to patient request for primary cesarean delivery without a clear medical indication. Male physicians were more likely to agree to a patient's request for cesarean delivery than female physicians.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2004

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