Objective: Our purpose was to assess economic and health consequences of elective induction at term.
Study design: A decision-tree model incorporating a Markov analysis was used to compare the decision either to electively induce labor at term or expectantly manage the pregnancy until 42 weeks' gestation. Main outcome measures, stratified by parity, cervical ripeness, and gestational age at induction, were number of cesarean deliveries and costs to the health care system.
Results: By use of baseline estimates, induction at any gestational age, regardless of parity and cervical ripeness, required expenditures from the medical system. Although never cost saving, inductions were less expensive at later gestational ages, for multiparous patients, and for those women with a favorable cervix. Sensitivity analysis demonstrated a robust model.
Conclusions: Elective induction of labor at term is not cost saving and results in a large excess of cesarean deliveries. Costs are significantly altered by the timing of the induction, parity, and cervical ripeness.