Early labor assessment and support at home versus telephone triage: a randomized controlled trial

Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Dec;108(6):1463-9. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000247644.64154.bb.


Objective: To compare rates of cesarean delivery among women who were triaged by obstetric nurses, either by telephone or by means of home visits.

Methods: Healthy, nulliparous women in labor at term with uncomplicated pregnancies residing in the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, and suburbs between November 2001 and October 2004 were randomized when they sought advice about when to come to hospital. Women randomized to telephone triage (n=731) were provided with advice by telephone. Women randomized to a home visit (n=728) were triaged after a "hands-on" assessment in their homes.

Results: The relative risk (RR) for cesarean delivery among home-triaged women compared with those receiving only telephone support was 1.12 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.94-1.32). The study was designed to have 80% power to detect a RR less than 0.78 or greater than 1.27 for cesarean delivery. Significantly fewer women in the home visit group were admitted to hospital with cervical dilatation at 3 cm or less (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.76-0.94). Significantly more women in the home visit group managed their labor without a visit to hospital for assessment (RR 1.54, 95% CI 1.23-1.92). There were no statistically significant differences in use of narcotic analgesia, epidural analgesia, and augmentation of labor. Adverse neonatal outcomes were rare and did not differ between study groups.

Conclusion: Early labor assessment and support at home versus support by telephone reduces the number of visits to hospital in latent phase labor but does not impact cesarean delivery rates among healthy nulliparous women.

Clinical trial registration: ISRCTN, www.controlled-trials.com/isrctn, MCT-44153

Level of evidence: I.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia
  • Analgesia, Obstetrical / statistics & numerical data
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • House Calls*
  • Humans
  • Labor Onset / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Telephone*
  • Triage / methods*