Refusal of treatment in obstetrics - A maternal-fetal conflict

Iris Ohel, Amalia Levy, Mazor Moshe, Arnon Wiznitzer, Wiznitzer Arnon, Eyal Sheiner, Sheiner Eyal

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    14 Scopus citations


    OBJECTIVE: Clinical studies about the necessity of standard obstetric interventions raise questions, making refusal by pregnant women of treatment a legitimate choice. The present study was aimed at characterising patients refusing medical treatment during pregnancy and delivery, and to examine whether refusal of treatment in obstetrics is associated with adverse perinatal outcome.

    METHODS: A population-based study, comparing patients who refused (1898) and did not refuse (164,064) medical intervention during pregnancy and delivery, was conducted. Deliveries occurred between the years 1988 and 2002 in a tertiary medical centre.

    RESULTS: Patients refusing medical intervention tended to be older (30.5 +/- 5.0 vs. 28.4 +/- 5.9, p < 0.001) and of higher parity (above parity 5: 52.5% vs. 32.4%; parity 1: 10.2% vs. 20.0%; p < 0.001) than the controls. Parturients refusing medical treatment experienced significantly higher rates of adverse perinatal outcome including low Apgar scores (less than 7, in 1 and 5 min: 12.4% vs. 4.4%, p < 0.001 and 1.9% vs. 0.6%, p < 0.001, respectively). Moreover, higher rates of perinatal mortality in general and intra-partum death, in particular, were documented among women refusing medical treatment (3.3% vs. 1.5%, p < 0.001; 0.8% vs. 0.1%, p < 0.001). When using a multiple logistic regression model of risk factors for perinatal mortality, refuse of treatment was an independent risk factor for perinatal mortality (OR = 1.5; 95% CI = 1.1-2.0; p = 0.010).

    CONCLUSION: Patients refusing a medically indicated intervention have higher rates of pregnancy- and labour- related complications. Refusal of treatment is an independent risk factor for perinatal mortality.

    Original languageEnglish GB
    Pages (from-to)612-5
    Number of pages4
    JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - 21 Jul 2009


    • Adult
    • Case-Control Studies
    • Cesarean Section/psychology
    • Conflict, Psychological
    • Delivery, Obstetric/methods
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Infant, Newborn
    • Maternal Age
    • Maternal-Fetal Relations/psychology
    • Parity
    • Perinatal Mortality
    • Pregnancy
    • Pregnancy Outcome/epidemiology
    • Risk Factors
    • Treatment Refusal/psychology
    • Young Adult


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