Measuring women's childbirth experiences: a systematic review for identification and analysis of validated instruments

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017 Jun 29;17(1):203. doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1356-y.


Background: Women's childbirth experience can have immediate as well as long-term positive or negative effects on their life, well-being and health. When evaluating and drawing conclusions from research results, women's experiences of childbirth should be one aspect to consider. Researchers and clinicians need help in finding and selecting the most suitable instrument for their purpose. The aim of this study was therefore to systematically identify and present validated instruments measuring women's childbirth experience.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted in January 2016 with a comprehensive search in the bibliographic databases PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, The Cochrane Library and PsycINFO. Included instruments measured women's childbirth experiences. Papers were assessed independently by two reviewers for inclusion, and quality assessment of included instruments was made by two reviewers independently and in pairs using Terwee et al's criteria for evaluation of psychometric properties.

Results: In total 5189 citations were screened, of which 5106 were excluded by title and abstract. Eighty-three full-text papers were reviewed, and 37 papers were excluded, resulting in 46 included papers representing 36 instruments. These instruments demonstrated a wide range in purpose and content as well as in the quality of psychometric properties.

Conclusions: This systematic review provides an overview of existing instruments measuring women's childbirth experiences and can support researchers to identify appropriate instruments to be used, and maybe adapted, in their specific contexts and research purpose.

Keywords: Childbirth experiences; Childbirth satisfaction; Measurement instruments; Psychometric properties; Systematic review; Validated questionnaires.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychometrics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*