[Survey of the practice of cervical ripening and labor induction in France]

J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 2003 Nov;32(7):638-46.
[Article in French]


Objectives: Labor induction is a widespread medical practice in France. The medical or obstetric indications for induction as well as the protocols used probably vary from one maternity to another. The objective of this national survey was to describe current medical practices and procedures in France, regarding labor induction and cervical ripening, eight years after the national consensus on labor induction management. A second objective was to assess mothers' opinion on the induction of their labor/level of satisfaction on their childbirth experience.

Materials and methods: The sample of maternities was randomly extracted from a list published by the French Ministry of Health. Sampling was performed according to maternity size, geography, and private vs public. Medical information was collected on consecutive labor induction cases in each maternity. Mother's opinions were estimated through a score based on the validated Labour Agentry Scale.

Results: Within the 38 maternities included, 21 (55.3%) were public, and 17 (44.7%) private. 1192 women were included in this study and 1090 (91.4%) answered the questionnaire on level of satisfaction. Global rate of elective induction (no medical or obstetric indication) was 24.8% (n=295). Prostaglandins are almost as widely used as oxytocin (45.8% and 47.7% of total labor inductions, respectively). Mostly used methods of delivering prostaglandin are intravaginal (27.1%), controlled-release pessaries (10.2%) and intracervical (8.1%). Among the elective inductions, an important rate of unfavorable cervix was found (n=81, 27.5%) as well as a quite high level of use of prostaglandins (n=51, 17.3%). The statistically independent criteria linked to a high satisfaction score are an older age (OR=1.58; CI 95% [1.80-3.33]), an elective induction (OR=2.44; IC 95% [1.80-3.33]) and a favorable cervix (OR=1.47; [1.08-1.98]).

Conclusion: The use of prostaglandins in labor induction and cervical ripening is now widespread in France. This technique is not always used in accordance with available scientific data. These results should lead health professionals to set up an evaluation process for their practices, when these are not based on clear scientific evidence.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cervical Ripening* / drug effects
  • Cervix Uteri / drug effects
  • Cervix Uteri / physiology*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced / methods*
  • Obstetrics / methods*
  • Obstetrics / standards
  • Oxytocin / administration & dosage*
  • Oxytocin / therapeutic use
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Private Practice
  • Prostaglandins / administration & dosage
  • Prostaglandins / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Prostaglandins
  • Oxytocin