Partogram action line study: A randomised trial

T. Lavender, Z. Alfirevic, S. Walkinshaw

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective. To assess the effect of three different partograms on caesarean section and maternal satisfaction. Design. Prospective randomised clinical trial. Setting. Regional teaching hospital in North West of England. Participants. Nine hundred and twenty-eight primigravid women with uncomplicated pregnancies who presented in spontaneous labour at term. Interventions. The women were randomised to have their progress of labour recorded on a partogram with an action line 2, 3 or 4 hours to the right of the alert line. If the progress reached the action line, a diagnosis of prolonged labour was made. Prolonged labour was managed according to the standard ward protocol. Main outcome measures. Primary: Caesarean section rate and maternal satisfaction; secondary: need for augmentation, duration of labour, analgesia, cord blood gas analysis, postpartum haemorrhage, number of vaginal examinations, Apgar score and admission to special care baby unit. Results. Caesarean section rate was lowest when labour was managed using a partogram with a 4-hour action line. The difference between the 3- and 4-hour partograms was statistically significant (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1-3.2), but the difference between 2 and 4 hours was not(OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.8-2.4). The women in the 2-hour arm were more satisfied with their labour when compared to the women in the 3-hour (P <0.0001) and 3-hour (P <0 0001) arm. Conclusion. Our data suggest that women prefer active management of labour. It is possible that partograms which favour earlier intervention are associated with higher caesarean section rate. As the evidence on which to base the choice of partograms remains inconclusive further research is required.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)976-980
    Number of pages4
    JournalBritish Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • statistics & numerical data: Cesarean Section
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Medical Records
    • therapy: Obstetric Labor Complications
    • Patient Satisfaction
    • Pregnancy
    • Prospective Studies
    • Trial of Labor


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