Background and objectives: In the context of a dramatic increase in US cesarean delivery rates over the past 30 years and explicit national goals to decrease the cesarean rate, previous retrospective studies have shown that pregnant women cared for by family physicians may be less likely to undergo cesarean delivery, compared with patients cared for by obstetricians.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 3,560 deliveries from the family practice service of a community-based family practice residency from 1986-1995, focusing primarily on cesarean delivery rates during two periods of time. During period 1 (n = 1,063), all attending were private practice obstetricians. After a transition period, all births were attended by family medicine faculty (period 2, n = 1,346).
Results: The total cesarean delivery rate declined from 16.7% in period 1 to 11.1% in period 2. Repeat cesareans declined from 8.5% to 2.9%.
Conclusions: In this community-based residency, a change in the specialty of the attending physician was associated with a 34% decline in the cesarean delivery rate. The observed decline in the cesarean rate could not be accounted for by any change in patient demographics or secular trends in cesarean delivery rates.