Women's perceptions of social support during labour: Development, reliability and validity of the Birth Companion Support Questionnaire

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Objective: to develop and test the reliability and validity of a research instrument to measure women's perceptions of social support provided during labour by at least one lay birth companion.

Design: a cross-sectional study was carried out from April 2009 to February 2010.

Setting: non-tertiary hospital in the outer western region of Brisbane, Australia.

Participants: six registered midwives and 10 postnatal women reviewed the instrument. The instrument was then completed by 293 inpatient women who had experienced a vaginal birth.

Measurements and findings: the Birth Companion Support Questionnaire (BCSQ) was developed and its reliability and validity were evaluated in this study. An exploratory factor analysis was performed on the final instrument using principal component analysis with an oblique (Promax) rotation. This process suggested two subscales: emotional support and tangible support. The questionnaire was found to be reliable and valid for use in midwifery research.

Key conclusions: the BCSQ is an appropriate instrument to measure women's perceptions of lay birth companion support during labour.

Implications for practice: this is the first rigorous study to develop and test a measure of social support in labour which is critical at a time when policy makers and health planners need to consider the needs of birthing women and their network of support friends and family.


School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedicine

Document Type

Journal Article

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ERA Access