Knowledge, attitude and experience of episiotomy use among obstetricians and midwives in Viet Nam

15 July 2015

Background: Episiotomy remains a routine procedure at childbirth in many South-East Asian countries but the reasons for this are unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge of, attitudes towards and experience of episiotomy use among clinicians in Viet Nam. Methods: All obstetricians and midwives who provide delivery care at Hung Vuong Hospital were surveyed about their practice, knowledge and attitudes towards episiotomy use. Data were analysed using frequency tabulations and contingency table analysis. Results: 148 (88%) clinicians completed the questionnaire. Fewer obstetricians (52.2%) than midwives (79.7%) thought the current episiotomy rate of 86% was about right (P<0.01). Most obstetricians (82.6%) and midwives (98.7%) reported performing episiotomies on nulliparous women over 90% of the time. Among multipara, 24.6% of obstetricians reported performing episiotomy less than 60% of the time compared with only 3 (3.8%) midwives (P<0.01). Aiming to reduce 3rd-4th degree perineal tears was the most commonly reported reason for performing an episiotomy by both obstetricians (76.8%) and midwives (82.3%), and lack of training in how to minimize tears and keep the perineum intact was the mostly commonly reported obstacle (obstetricians 56.5%, midwives 36.7% P=0.02) to reducing the episiotomy rate. Conclusion: Although several factors that may impede or facilitate episiotomy practice change were identified by our survey, training and confidence in normal vaginal birth without episiotomy is a priority.