Data from interviews with 131 women who had a live birth and 109 who had a stillbirth about their experience of childbearing have been compared with information obtained from doctors.
For the live births medical information was more often obtained for those in teaching than in non-teaching hospitals. It is estimated that 84% of miscarriages, abortions and stillbirths were reported by women whereas 62% were recorded accessibly in the notes. Nerves and depression during pregnancy were reported much more frequently by the women than by the doctors.
Correlations over gestation were around 0·8. Concordance was greater over induction than over acceleration; it was high in relation to epidural anaesthesia and less good for other types of anaesthetic. Among the live births, reports of the baby's weight fell in the same half-pound group in 82% of instances and within adjoining groups for a further 12%. There appeared to be a tendency for mothers to report a slightly higher weight. In general agreement was less good for the stillbirths than for the live births.
Probable reasons for the discrepancies are discussed. Problems of precise definition, inaccuracies and inadequacies in the medical records and limitations of women's knowledge appeared to be the main sources of disparities.