Measurement of perceptions of intrapartum nurses regarding professional labor support
Every year approximately 4 million women in the United States experience childbirth; this has been cited as a pivotal event in a woman's life and development, impacting her further development as a woman. Labor support is an important part of this experience since it influences the woman's classification of the birth experience as positive or negative. Most women experience childbirth under the watchful eye of intrapartum nurses, who exert a great deal of influence over the supportive environment surrounding this experience. Understanding how the intrapartum nurse perceives the role of supportive care during labor, therefore, becomes paramount. The purpose of this study was to develop a valid and reliable instrument (i.e., the Labor Support Questionnaire [LSQ]) to measure the perceptions of importance and usage of supportive care behaviors in their practice.
To estimate reliability and validity of the LSQ, a methodological study was conducted with a sample of 146 intrapartum nurses in Texas. The LSQ initially consisted of 43 items, but after content validation and subsequent pilot study, 29 items remained in each of its two parts. Part 1 addressed the perceptions of importance of professional labor support to intrapartum nurses. Part 2 addressed the use of professional labor support behaviors in their practice.
Cronbach's alpha, Pearson's r, Principal Components Analysis (PCA), and descriptive statistics were used for data analysis. Content validity was high (CVI = .94). Cronbach's alphas for the final versions of the LSQ—Parts 1 and 2 were .90 and .88, respectively. The PCA yielded six factors that defined the underlying dimensions of professional labor support. Convergent validity demonstrated moderated estimates while concurrent validity estimates were weak.
The findings of this study are encouraging that the LSQ can be a valid and reliable instrument that contributes to a better understanding of professional labor support. Using the LSQ to measure the perceptions of and use of professional labor support behaviors in an intrapartum nurse's practice can achieve this understanding. By understanding professional labor support, intrapartum nursing knowledge can be advanced and help guide professional labor support interventions which can enhance the birthing process for all women.