|Does delivery in private hospitals contribute largely to Caesarean Section births? A path analysis using generalised structural equation modelling
|PLOS ONE , DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239649
|Background:The rate of Caesarean Section (CS) deliveries has shown an alarming rise in recent years. CS is a surgical procedure used when there is apprehension of risk to the life of mother or baby in case of vaginal delivery, but its rates higher than 10–15 per cent are not justifiable. It is well recognised that a CS delivery could have a large number of adverse impacts on women and infants. Several studies, especially in developing countries, have revealed that delivery in private hospitals is one of the most contributing factors in CS deliveries. The present study conceptualises a causal pathway in which the possible risk factors, socio-economic, maternal and pregnancy-related, as well as institutional, influence the chances of CS delivery. It is hypothesised that certain factors would contribute to CS deliveries largely indirectly through the place of delivery, that is, either a public or private institution.
Methods and findings: To test the hypotheses, this study analysed 146,280 most recent live births delivered in hospitals during the five years preceding the fourth round of India’s National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), carried out during 2015–2016. The analysis, using generalised structural equation modelling (GSEM), revealed that many exogenous variables considered in the path models influence CS deliveries significantly, directly and/or indirectly through the place of delivery factor. Prominent among these are wealth index and receiving ANC services at only private hospitals; the total effects of these variables are even higher than the direct/total effect of place of delivery.
Conclusion: From this finding, it could be said that the place of delivery is a proximate determinant of a CS delivery or a mediator of other co-factors. Interventions to curb higher CS deliveries should be focused on improving the quality of public health sectors and on developing protocols for CS deliveries.