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1.  Pain acceptance and personal control in pain relief in two maternity care models: a cross-national comparison of Belgium and the Netherlands 
Background
A cross-national comparison of Belgian and Dutch childbearing women allows us to gain insight into the relative importance of pain acceptance and personal control in pain relief in 2 maternity care models. Although Belgium and the Netherlands are neighbouring countries sharing the same language, political system and geography, they are characterised by a different organisation of health care, particularly in maternity care. In Belgium the medical risks of childbirth are emphasised but neutralised by a strong belief in the merits of the medical model. Labour pain is perceived as a needless inconvenience easily resolved by means of pain medication. In the Netherlands the midwifery model of care defines childbirth as a normal physiological process and family event. Labour pain is perceived as an ally in the birth process.
Methods
Women were invited to participate in the study by independent midwives and obstetricians during antenatal visits in 2004-2005. Two questionnaires were filled out by 611 women, one at 30 weeks of pregnancy and one within the first 2 weeks after childbirth either at home or in a hospital. However, only women having a hospital birth without obstetric intervention (N = 327) were included in this analysis. A logistic regression analysis has been performed.
Results
Labour pain acceptance and personal control in pain relief render pain medication use during labour less likely, especially if they occur together. Apart from this general result, we also find large country differences. Dutch women with a normal hospital birth are six times less likely to use pain medication during labour, compared to their Belgian counterparts. This country difference cannot be explained by labour pain acceptance, since - in contrast to our working hypothesis - Dutch and Belgian women giving birth in a hospital setting are characterised by a similar labour pain acceptance. Our findings suggest that personal control in pain relief can partially explain the country differences in coping with labour pain. For Dutch women we find that the use of pain medication is lowest if women experience control over the reception of pain medication and have a positive attitude towards labour pain. In Belgium however, not personal control over the use of pain relief predicts the use of pain medication, but negative attitudes towards labour.
Conclusions
Apart from individual level determinants, such as length of labour or pain acceptance, our findings suggest that the maternity care context is of major importance in the study of the management of labour pain. The pain medication use in Belgian hospital maternity care is high and is very sensitive to negative attitudes towards labour pain. In the Netherlands, on the contrary, pain medication use is already low. This can partially be explained by a low degree of personal control in pain relief, especially when co-occurring with positive pain attitudes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-268
PMCID: PMC2944275  PMID: 20831798
2.  Part-time hospitalisation and stigma experiences: a study in contemporary psychiatric hospitals 
Background
Because numerous studies have revealed the negative consequences of stigmatisation, this study explores the determinants of stigma experiences. In particular, it examines whether or not part-time hospitalisation in contemporary psychiatric hospitals is associated with less stigma experiences than full-time hospitalisation.
Methods
Survey data on 378 clients of 42 wards from 8 psychiatric hospitals are used to compare full-time clients, part-time clients and clients receiving part-time care as aftercare on three dimensions of stigma experiences, while controlling for symptoms, diagnosis and clients' background characteristics.
Results
The results reveal that part-time clients without previous full-time hospitalisation report less social rejection than clients who receive full-time hospitalisation. In contrast, clients receiving part-time treatment as aftercare do not differ significantly from full-time clients concerning social rejection. No significant results for the other stigma dimensions were found.
Conclusion
Concerning social rejection, immediate part-time hospitalisation could be recommended as a means of destigmatisation for clients of contemporary psychiatric hospitals.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-125
PMCID: PMC2442430  PMID: 18544154
3.  Assessment of social psychological determinants of satisfaction with childbirth in a cross-national perspective 
Background
The fulfilment of expectations, labour pain, personal control and self-efficacy determine the postpartum evaluation of birth. However, researchers have seldom considered the multiple determinants in one analysis. To explore to what extent the results can be generalised between countries, we analyse data of Belgian and Dutch women. Although Belgium and the Netherlands share the same language, geography and political system and have a common history, their health care systems diverge. The Belgian maternity care system corresponds to the ideal type of the medical model, whereas the Dutch system approaches the midwifery model. In this paper we examine multiple determinants, the fulfilment of expectations, labour pain, personal control and self-efficacy, for their association with satisfaction with childbirth in a cross-national perspective.
Methods
Two questionnaires were filled out by 605 women, one at 30 weeks of pregnancy and one within the first 2 weeks after childbirth either at home or in a hospital. Of these, 560 questionnaires were usable for analysis. Women were invited to participate in the study by independent midwives and obstetricians during antenatal visits in 2004–2005. Satisfaction with childbirth was measured by the Mackey Satisfaction with Childbirth Rating Scale, which takes into account the multidimensional nature of the concept. Labour pain was rated retrospectively using Visual Analogue Scales. Personal control was assessed with the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire and Pearlin and Schooler's mastery scale. A hierarchical linear analysis was performed.
Results
Satisfaction with childbirth benefited most consistently from the fulfilment of expectations. In addition, the experience of personal control buffered the lowering impact of labour pain. Women with high self-efficacy showed more satisfaction with self-, midwife- and physician-related aspects of the birth experience.
Conclusion
Our findings focus the attention toward personal control, self-efficacy and expectations about childbirth. This study confirms the multidimensionality of childbirth satisfaction and demonstrates that different factors predict the various dimensions of satisfaction. The model applies to both Belgian and Dutch women. Cross-national comparative research should further assess the dependence of the determinants of childbirth satisfaction on the organisation of maternity care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-26
PMCID: PMC2200649  PMID: 17963491
4.  Does a referral from home to hospital affect satisfaction with childbirth? A cross-national comparison 
Background
The Belgian and Dutch societies present many similarities but differ with regard to the organisation of maternity care. The Dutch way of giving birth is well known for its high percentage of home births and its low medical intervention rate. In contrast, home births in Belgium are uncommon and the medical model is taken for granted. Dutch and Belgian maternity care systems are compared with regard to the influence of being referred to specialist care during pregnancy or intrapartum while planning for a home birth. We expect that a referral will result in lower satisfaction with childbirth, especially in Belgium.
Methods
Two questionnaires were filled out by 605 women, one at 30 weeks of pregnancy and one within the first two weeks after childbirth, either at home or in a hospital. Of these, 563 questionnaires were usable for analysis. Women were invited to participate in the study by independent midwives and obstetricians during antenatal visits in 2004–2005. Satisfaction with childbirth was measured by the Mackey Satisfaction with Childbirth Rating Scale, which takes into account the multidimensional nature of the concept.
Results
Belgian women are more satisfied than Dutch women and home births are more satisfying than hospital births. Women who are referred to the hospital while planning for a home birth are less satisfied than women who planned to give birth in hospital and did. A referral has a greater negative impact on satisfaction for Dutch women.
Conclusion
There is no reason to believe Dutch women receive hospital care of lesser quality than Belgian women in case of a referral. Belgian and Dutch attach different meaning to being referred, resulting in a different evaluation of childbirth. In the Dutch maternity care system home births lead to higher satisfaction, but once a referral to the hospital is necessary satisfaction drops and ends up lower than satisfaction with hospital births that were planned in advance. We need to understand more about referral processes and how women experience them.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-7-109
PMCID: PMC1939703  PMID: 17626631

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