Testing the birth unit design spatial evaluation tool (budset) in Australia: a pilot study

Maralyn Foureur, Nicky Leap, Deborah Davis, Ian Forbes, Caroline Homer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To pilot test the Birth Unit Design Spatial Evaluation Tool (BUDSET) in an Australian maternity care setting to determine whether such an instrument can measure the optimality of different birth settings.

Background: Optimally designed spaces to give birth are likely to influence a woman's ability to experience physiologically normal labor and birth. This is important in the current industrialized environment, where increased caesarean section, rates are causing concerns. The measurement of an optimal birth space is currently impossible, because there are limited tools available.

Methods: A quantitative study was undertaken to pilot test the discriminant ability of the BUDSET in eight maternity units in New South Wales, Australia. Five auditors trained in the use of the BUDSET assessed the birth units using the BUDSET, which is based on 18 design principles and is divided into four domains (Fear Cascade, Facility, Aesthetics, and Support) with three to eight assessable items in each. Data were independently collected in eight birth units. Values for each of the domains were aggregated to provide an overall Optimality Score for each birth unit.

Results: A range of Optimality Scores was derived for each of the birth units (from 51 to 77 out of a possible 100 points). The BUDSET identified units with low-scoring domains. Essentially, these were older units and conventional labor ward settings.

Conclusion: The BUDSET provides a way to assess the optimality of birth units and determine which domain areas may need improvement. There is potential for improvements to existing birth spaces, and considerable improvement can be made with simple low-cost modifications. Further research is needed to validate the tool
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-60
Number of pages25
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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