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Cesarean Section: Norwegian Women Do as Obstetricians Do—Not as Obstetricians Say

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Background: The worrying trend of an ever-increasing incidence of delivery by cesarean section has been commented on repeatedly. Studies from the United Kingdom and the United States have found that many obstetricians would choose cesarean section for themselves without strict medical indication, whereas similar studies from Denmark and Norway have indicated that almost none would choose cesarean section for themselves. The purpose of this study was to report the proportion of Norwegian obstetricians who have children born by cesarean section and to compare the rate with that among other physicians and that with the general population. Methods: Questionnaires were sent to 1,500 random members of the Norwegian general public, 1,500 randomly selected physicians, and 423 random surgeons asking whether they had children born by cesarean section. All were between the ages of 40 and 65 years. Results: The response rate was 78 percent. In the general public with children, 12 percent reported that one or more of them were born by cesarean section. The average was 8 percent among those with only basic schooling compared with 16 percent (p < 0.02) among those who had been to university for more than 4 years. This figure was 19 percent among physicians in general (p < 0.001 compared with the general population), 26 percent among surgeons, and 27 percent among the 189 specialists in obstetrics and gynecology (p < 0.02 compared with the physicians in general). Conclusion: The rate of cesarean section in the general population is unlikely to fall as long as so many obstetricians have their own children delivered by cesarean section. (BIRTH 35:2 June 2008)
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Keywords: cesarean section; incidence; obstetricians; physicians

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Andreas Hopstock Storeheier is a House Officer at the Department of Internal Medicine, Levanger Hospital, Levanger, Norway 2: Olaf Gjerløw Aasland is Head of the Research Institute of the Norwegian Medical Association and a Professor at the Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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