Pain relief in labor: a survey of awareness, attitude, and practice of health care providers in Zaria, Nigeria
E Ogboli-Nwasor1, SE Adaji2, SB Bature2, OS Shittu2
1Department of Anesthesia, 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria
Background: The purpose of this study was to assess the attitudes of maternal health care providers to pain relief during labor in Zaria, Nigeria.
Methods: This was a multicenter, collaborative, cross-sectional pilot study of provider perspectives concerning pain relief during labor. A structured, self-administered, questionnaire was completed by 95 consenting maternal health care providers at three high-volume facilities in Zaria, an ancient northern Nigerian city. Descriptive statistics was performed on the data.
Results: Most respondents (94.8%) agreed that pain relief is needed during labor. Only 2.1% of respondents were undecided about the provision of pain relief during labor and 3.2% were of the opinion that pain relief was not necessary during labor. Most respondents (93.7%) had attended a woman in labor in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Of these, 56.8% had counseled a parturient in labor. Most of the counseling (42.1%) took place during labor. Less than half of the respondents (48.4%) had administered pain relief in labor in the preceding 4 weeks and systemic opioids was the most commonly form of pain relief. Among the respondents who did not offer pain relief agents in labor, the majority (54.5%) had no reason for not offering it. Unavailability of methods, inability to afford the cost of pain relief, lack of knowledge and skills, as well as lack of essential equipment to provide the procedure were also given by respondents as reasons for not offering pain relief.
Conclusion: Even though maternal health care providers in this environment have a positive attitude to pain relief in labor, most women go through labor without the benefit of analgesia. There exists a gap between provider attitudes to pain relief in labor and practice of the same, with many providers having no genuine reason(s) for not offering pain relief to their clients during labor. Providers need to align their practice to their attitudes, and need to be helped to do this through training as well as enhancing their ability to think critically about their practice.
Keywords: pain relief, providers, attitudes, practice, labor, conflict
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