What Are Optimal Cesarean Section Rates in the U.S. and How Do We Get There? A Review of Evidence-Based Recommendations and Interventions

Academic Article


  • © Copyright 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2017. Cesarean sections (CSs) are the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the world today. Global epidemiological studies from the last decade suggest that the optimal CS rates in developed countries exist somewhere between 15% and 19%. Despite these findings, CS rates in the United States have remained stable at slightly over 32% over the past 10 years. Using primary and secondary literature published from 2010 to 2015, this review discusses how optimal CS rates were developed. In addition, we define a category of potentially avoidable CS (i.e., those conducted on nulliparous low-risk women who present with vertex infants at term) and explore how CS in this population appear to be one of the main drivers of high CS rates overall. The institutional, provider, and patient-related factors, which may be related to higher-than-recommended rates of CS, particularly those conducted in low-risk women, will be discussed. This review will then delve into clinician and patient-oriented interventions that have been shown to effectively reduce the rate of potentially avoidable CS. Our analysis showed that large-scale, multifaceted interventions that include audit and feedback cycles as well as peer review strategies were the most effective in decreasing rates of potentially avoidable CS. This review concludes with an agenda for future research into interventions that aim to achieve optimal CS rates.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Montoya-Williams D; Lemas DJ; Spiryda L; Patel K; Neu J; Carson TL
  • Start Page

  • 1285
  • End Page

  • 1291
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 12