Background: Some research attention has been paid to women's experiences of water immersion for labour and/or birth. Development of a psychometric scale specific to water immersion may provide further insight into women's experiences. Aim: The objective of this paper is to share the development, and preliminary psychometric evaluation, of the Water immersion Agency plus Expectations and Relief (WA+ER) scale for assessing women's experiences of using water for labour and/or birth. Methods: Items for the WA+ER scale were informed by a thorough literature review, and review by midwifery experts. An online survey was conducted, and 17 items were rated on a 7-point Likert scale (from entirely disagree to entirely agree) by 740 women who had used water immersion for labour and/or birth. Results: An initial exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine the initial structure of the scale. A confirmatory factor analysis showed that the initial 17-items were not a ‘good fit’ but with further statistical exploration, a good fit was achieved with 11-items. Results identified three factors with good reliability: Sense of Agency (4 items; α = 0.87;), Expectations (3 items; α = 0.83) and Relief (4 items α = 0.82). A confirmatory factor analysis confirmed good model fit (CFI=0.93; GFI=0.91; AGFI=0.85; TLI=0.90). Conclusions: The WA+ER scale is a statistically and theoretically sound tool for measuring women's experiences of labouring and/or birthing in water. Additional testing is required to further assess the validity and reliability of the scale and to determine the appropriateness of its use in other populations.
- Scale development
- Water immersion