Decision Making on the Labor and Delivery Unit: An Investigation of Influencing Factors

Megan E. Gregory, Shirley C. Sonesh, Jennifer Feitosa, Lauren E. Benishek, Ashley M. Hughes, Eduardo Salas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective The aim of this study was to describe the relationship between negative affect (NA), decision-making style, time stress, and decision quality in health care. Background Health care providers must often make swift, high-stakes decisions. Influencing factors of the decision-making process in this context have been understudied. Method Within a sample of labor and delivery nurses, physicians, and allied personnel, we used self-report measures to examine the impact of trait factors, including NA, decision-making style, and perceived time stress, on decision quality in a situational judgment test (Study 1). In Study 2, we observed the influence of state NA, state decision-making style, state time stress, and their relationship with decision quality on real clinical decisions. Results In Study 1, we found that trait NA significantly predicted avoidant decision-making style. Furthermore, those who were higher on trait time stress and trait avoidant decision-making style exhibited poorer decisions. In Study 2, we observed associations between state NA with state avoidant and analytical decision-making styles. We also observed that these decision-making styles, when considered in tandem with time stress, were influential in predicting clinical decision quality. Conclusion NA predicts some decision-making styles, and decision-making style can affect decision quality under time stress. This is particularly true for state factors. Application Individual differences, such as affect and decision-making style, should be considered during selection. Training to reduce time stress perceptions should be provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-955
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • health care
  • individual differences
  • naturalistic decision making
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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