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QUESTION: In women in labour, does continuous support by health professionals or lay people have beneficial maternal and infant outcomes?
Studies were identified by using the search strategy developed for the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group, which included searching Medline, the Cochrane CENTRAL and Controlled Trials Registers, conference proceedings, and handsearching 38 relevant journal titles.
Studies were selected if they were randomised controlled trials that compared continuous labour support by a professional (nurse or midwife) or lay person with usual care for women in labour in hospital delivery wards.
Data were extracted on country in which the study was done, hospital policy concerning labour accompaniment, caregiver experience and qualifications, timing and duration of support, methodological quality, and outcomes. Outcomes included need …
Source of funding: no external funding.
For correspondence: Professor E D Hodnett, University of Toronto, Faculty of Nursing, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.