Nonclinical factors, including the setting in which health care takes place, influence clinical decisions. This research measures the independent effects of organizational and socioeconomic factors on repeat cesarean section use in California. Of 45 425 births to women with previous cesarean sections in 1986, vaginal birth after cesarean section occurred in 10.9%. Sizable nonclinical variations were noted. By hospital ownership, rates ranged from 4.9% (for-profit hospitals) to 29.2% (University of California). Variations also existed by hospital teaching level (nonteaching hospitals, 7.0%, vs formalized teaching hospitals, 23.3%); payment source (private insurance, 8.1%, vs indigent services, 25.2%); and obstetric volume (low-volume hospitals, 5.4%, vs high-volume hospitals, 16.6%). Multiple logistic regression demonstrated that these variables had independent effects after accounting for their overlapping influences and the effects of patient characteristics. The observed variations demonstrate the prominence of nonclinical factors in decision making and question the clinical appropriateness of current practice patterns.
Stafford RS. The Impact of Nonclinical Factors on Repeat Cesarean Section. JAMA. 1991;265(1):59-63. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460010059031