Objective Decision aids (DAs) are useful in providing information for decision-making on using epidural anesthesia during birth. To date, there has been little development of DAs for Japanese pregnant women. Herein, we investigated the effect of a DA on the decision of pregnant women whether to have epidural anesthesia or not for labor during vaginal delivery. The primary outcome was changes in mean decision conflict score. Methods In this non-randomized controlled trial, 300 low-risk pregnant women in an urban hospital were recruited by purposive sampling and assigned to 2 groups: DA (intervention) and pamphlet (control) groups. Control enrollment was started first (until 150 women), followed by intervention enrollment (150 women). Pre-test and post-test scores were evaluated using the Decision Conflict Scale (DCS) for primary outcome, knowledge of epidural anesthesia and satisfaction with decision making for secondary outcomes, and decision of anesthesia usage (i.e., with epidural anesthesia, without epidural anesthesia, or undecided). Results Women in the DA group (n = 149: 1 excluded because she did not return post-test questionnaire) had significantly lower DCS score than those in the pamphlet group (n = 150) (DA: -8.41 [SD 8.79] vs. pamphlet: -1.69 [SD 5.91], p < .001). Knowledge of epidural anesthesia and satisfaction with decision-making scores of women who used the DA were significantly higher than those of women who used the pamphlet (p < .001). Women in the DA group showed a significantly lower undecided rate than those in the pamphlet group. The number of undecided women in the DA group significantly decreased from 30.2% to 6.1% (p < .001), whereas that in the pamphlet group remained largely unchanged from 40.7% to 38.9%. Conclusion This study indicates that a DA can be useful in helping women make a decision whether to have epidural anesthesia or not for labor during vaginal delivery.
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