Variation in Cesarean Birth Rates by Labor and Delivery Nurses

Joyce K. Edmonds, Michele O'Hara, Sean P. Clarke, Neel T. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To examine variation in the cesarean birth rates of women cared for by labor and delivery nurses. Design Retrospective cohort study. Setting One high-volume labor and delivery unit at an academic medical center in a major metropolitan area. Participants Labor and delivery nurses who cared for nulliparous women who gave birth to term, singleton fetuses in vertex presentation. Methods Data were extracted from electronic hospital birth records from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015. Cesarean rates for individual nurses were calculated based on the number of women they attended who gave birth by cesarean. Nurses were grouped into quartiles by their cesarean rates, and the effect of these rates on the likelihood of cesarean birth was estimated by a logit regression model adjusting for patient-level characteristics and clustering of births within nurses. Results Seventy-two nurses attended 3,031 births. The mean nurse cesarean rate was 26% (95% confidence interval [23.9, 28.1]) and ranged from 8.3% to 48%. The adjusted odds of cesarean for births attended by nurses in the highest quartile was nearly 3 times (odds ratio = 2.73, 95% confidence interval [2.3, 3.3]) greater than for births attended by nurses in the lowest quartile. Conclusion The labor and delivery nurse assigned to a woman may influence the likelihood of cesarean birth. Nurse-level cesarean birth data could be used to design practice improvement initiatives to improve nurse performance. More precise measurement of the relative influence of nurses on mode of birth is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-493
Number of pages8
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • cesarean
  • measurement
  • nursing
  • quality indicators
  • variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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