Electronic fetal monitoring during labour and anxiety levels in women taking part in a RCT
Barber V., Linsell L., Locock L., Powell L., Shakeshaft C., Lean K., Colman J., Juszczak E., Brocklehurst P.
The INFANT study is a randomised controlled trial to determine whether decision-support software for electronic fetal monitoring can reduce the number of babies born with poor outcomes compared to electronic fetal monitoring alone. A mixed methods sub-study was undertaken as part of INFANT to examine the effects of the technologies being used on the anxiety levels of those women randomised: 469 women were asked to measure their anxiety levels using a Visual analogue scale–anxiety (Vas-a) at three time points (two during labour and one postpartum). There was little difference in anxiety scores between the two groups and scores were positively correlated with stage of labour. This study concludes that the addition of decision-support software did not increase overall anxiety during labour. Furthermore, an additional 18 women were interviewed by a qualitative researcher to further assess anxiety in the study participants. From the sample it was concluded that where anxiety occurs it may be more to do with general anxiety about the baby's health, which may be prompted by a range of factors including staff behaviours and verbal communication rather than the addition of decision-support software to electronic fetal monitoring.