Quality of Informed Consent Practices around the Time of Childbirth: A Cross-Sectional Study in Italy

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jun 10;19(12):7166. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19127166.


Background: Few studies have explored consent request practices during childbirth.

Objective: We explored consent request practices during childbirth in a referral hospital and research centre in Italy, capturing both women and health workers' perspectives.

Methods: Data were collected using self-administrated questionnaires between December 2016 and September 2018. Nine key maternal and newborn procedures were analysed. Associations between consent requests and women characteristics were explored by multiple logistic regression.

Results: Among 1244 women, the rate of consent requests varied widely, with caesarean section (CS) showing the highest rate (89.1%) and neonatal conjunctivitis prophylaxis presenting the lowest rate (11.4%). Information provided on "risks/benefits" and "reasons" for procedures by health staff was most often not comprehensive for procedures of interest (range 18.6-87.4%). The lack of informed consent is not specifically linked to any pattern of women characteristics. According to 105 health workers, adequate protocols and standard forms for consent requests were available in 67.6% and 78.1% of cases, respectively, while less than one third (31.4%) reported having received adequate training and supportive supervision on how to deliver informed consent.

Conclusions: Study findings align with previous evidence showing that consent request practices during childbirth need to be largely improved. More research is needed to investigate effective strategies for improvement.

Keywords: WHO standards; childbirth; healthcare provider; informed consent; quality improvement; quality of care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Informed Consent
  • Parturition*
  • Pregnancy

Grant support

This study was supported by the Ministry of Health, Rome, Italy, in collaboration with the Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo (N° 16\22), Trieste, Italy.