June 28, 2011
Childbirth Connection and the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making partner on a large-scale shared decision making project
A woman's likelihood of having certain tests in pregnancy, giving birth by cesarean section, or undergoing labor induction may have more to do with where she lives or who is taking care of her than how healthy she is or what kind of care she prefers. Documented in the 2008 Milbank Report, Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve, this type of unwarranted practice variation contributes to poor outcomes and wasted health care resources.
Unwarranted practice variation is rampant in health care, and health care leaders and policy makers have focused on shared decision making as one of the most important tools to remedy the problem.
"Shared decision making is really a process between a woman and her healthcare provider. The provider gives information about the outcomes and uncertainties of available treatment options and the woman expresses the values she brings to the decision and how she feels about the benefits and harms. Then together, they can reach agreement on the best strategy for her. What we'd like to do is to help facilitate that process," says Molly Beinfeld, Director of Independent Production at the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, a non-profit organization that has produced effective, high-quality decision support tools for a range of health conditions from back pain to breast cancer. The Foundation has just announced a large-scale expansion into maternity care decision support tools, with Childbirth Connection as the key partner. Beinfeld adds, "We're thrilled to work with Childbirth Connection because of their wisdom and history of leadership in promoting evidenced-based maternity care."
"In many ways, pregnant women are the ideal population to participate in shared decision making programs because for many decisions they have plenty of time to think about their preferences and learn the options," says Maureen Corry, Executive Director of Childbirth Connection. "We also see pregnancy as an important time to learn skills for navigating health care - skills soon-to-be-moms will carry with them as they manage their own health care and make decisions on behalf of their children in the future."
This Shared Decision Making Maternity Initiative aims to provide women and other health care stakeholders with tools for shared maternity care decision making and demonstrate the impact of shared decision making for women, their families, and the health care system. In the first year of the partnership, the Initiative will produce high-quality, field-tested decision support tools for key decisions childbearing women face, such as choice of care provider and birth setting, induction of labor for various indications, and self-care and medical care for gestational diabetes. The organizations will partner with hospitals and health systems, state Medicaid programs and other payers, employers, and consumer groups to ensure widespread distribution. Childbirth Connection and the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making will also continue their work with policy makers to promote the development of accountability systems that incentivize shared decision making.
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Most recent page update: 6/29/2011
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Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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