Nurses' Perspectives on the Intersection of Safety and Informed Decision Making in Maternity Care

Carrie H. Jacobson, Marya G. Zlatnik, Holly Powell Kennedy, Audrey Lyndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore maternity nurses' perceptions of women's informed decision making during labor and birth to better understand how interdisciplinary communication challenges might affect patient safety. Design: Constructivist grounded theory. Setting: Four hospitals in the western United States. Participants: Forty-six (46) nurses and physicians practicing in maternity units. Method: Data collection strategies included individual interviews and participant observation. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method, dimensional analysis, and situational analysis (Charmaz, ; Clarke, ; Schatzman, ). Results: The nurses' central action of holding off harm encompassed three communication strategies: persuading agreement, managing information, and coaching of mothers and physicians. These strategies were executed in a complex, hierarchical context characterized by varied practice patterns and relationships. Nurses' priorities and patient safety goals were sometimes misaligned with those of physicians, resulting in potentially unsafe communication. Conclusions: The communication strategies nurses employed resulted in intended and unintended consequences with safety implications for mothers and providers and had the potential to trap women in the middle of interprofessional conflicts and differences of opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-587
Number of pages11
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Childbirth
  • Communication
  • Grounded theory
  • Maternity nursing
  • Patient safety
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


Dive into the research topics of 'Nurses' Perspectives on the Intersection of Safety and Informed Decision Making in Maternity Care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this