Computer tool cuts caesarians by 4,000

A computerised decision-making tool could cut the number of caesarian sections performed in England and Wales by 4,000 a year, according to UK research.

Rates of caesarian section in the UK have increased from 9 to 21 per cent between 1980 and 2001. For the study, the researchers recruited 742 women, who were between 10-20 weeks into gestation. Each woman had undergone one previous caesarian section.

The women were split into three randomised groups. The first received usual care, the second was given access to a computer-based information programme, which gave the risks of a normal delivery, an elective caesarian section and an emergency caesarian section.

The third group was given access to the computer-based decision-analysis tool. This gave the women descriptions of the outcomes associated with a planned normal birth, elective caesarian section and emergency section.

Women who used the deci-sion tool were found to be more likely to have a vaginal birth (37 per cent) than the other women.

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