Objective : To determine the clinical risk factors associated with the mode of delivery decision and to compare cesarean section rates after adjusting for risk factors identified among Korean hospitals. Methods Data were collected from 9 general hospitals in two provincial regions by medical record abstraction during February 2000. A total of 3,467 cases were enrolled and analyzed by stepwise logistic regression. Performance of the risk-adjustment model (discrimination and calibration) was evaluated by the C statistic and the Hosmer-Lemeshow test. Crude rates, predicted rates with 95% confidence intervals, and adjusted rates of cesarean section were calculated and compared among the hospitals. Results : The average crude cesarean section rate was 53.2%, ranging from 39.4% to 65.7%. Several risk factors such as maternal age, previous history of cesarean section, placenta previa, placental abruption, malpresentation, amniotic fluid abnormality, gestational anemia, infant body weight, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and chorioamnionitis were found to have statistically significant effects on the mode of delivery. It was confirmed that information about most of these risk factors was able to be collected through the national health insurance claims database in Korea. Performance of the risk-adjustment model was good (c statistic=0.815, Hosmer-Lemeshow test=0.0621). Risk factor adjustment did lead to some change in the rank of hospital cesarean section rates. The crude rates of three hospitals were beyond 95% confidence intervals of the predicted rates. Conclusions : Considering that cesarean section rates in Korean hospitals are too high, it is apparent that some policy interventions need to be introduced. The concept and methodology of risk adjustment should be used in the process of health policy development to lower the cesarean section rate in Korea.
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