When childbirth Progress Slows or Stalls: A Qualitative Examination of Decision-Making Processes Surrounding Labor Dystocia

Doctoral Candidate Name: 
Jodie Lisenbee
Health Psychology

Labor dystocia, a term used to describe slowly progressing labor, is the most common reason for cesarean delivery. Despite global efforts to establish improved practice guidelines over the past decade, there is significant debate in the literature about how to manage labor dystocia when it occurs. The present study aims to illuminate 1) the decision-making processes surrounding labor dystocia, which previous literature suggests are complex and involve multiple stakeholders, and 2) the factors clinicians consider as part of these decisions that may contribute to whether a cesarean delivery is ultimately performed. These questions were approached qualitatively using informed constructivist grounded theory methodology. Informants were obstetricians, family medicine physicians, midwives, and labor and delivery nurses in current practice in metropolitan North Carolina hospitals. The primary researcher conducted semi-structured interviews that included a graphic elicitation diagramming exercise and collected sociodemographic data via an online survey. Several methodological strategies bolstered the study’s rigor and trustworthiness. The data revealed four common pathways through which decisions are made in the context of labor dystocia. Additionally, a Social-Ecological Model of Intrapartum Decision-Making is proposed that represents influential factors on decision-making processes at the level of the individual, patient-clinician, immediate social context, care team, maternity center/hospital setting, and broader macrosystem. Findings advance our understanding of how decisions are reached during a uniquely challenging medical experience and may lead to improvements in equitable, high-quality, labor and delivery care.

Defense Date and Time: 
Tuesday, April 30, 2024 - 9:00am
Defense Location: 
Committee Chair's Name: 
Drs. Jennifer B. Webb and Virginia Gil-Rivas
Committee Members: 
Drs. Alicia A. Dahl, Margaret M. Quinlan, and Keyona C. Oni