Background
Despite being an efficacious means of pain relief, there is a broad range of usage rates of epidural analgesia among countries worldwide. Australia sits between common usage in North America and more conservative usage in the UK. The reason for this is unclear, raising the question of whether there is a difference between Australia and other Western countries in pregnant women’s attitudes toward epidural use, or the hospital context.

Aim
To explore predictors for epidural analgesia request among pregnant women in Townsville, Australia.

Materials and Methods
A three‐phase mixed methods exploratory study design, with Phase One involving 12 one‐on‐one interviews with pregnant and post‐partum women regarding attitudes toward labour analgesia decision‐making and epidural preferences. Interview data were analysed thematically to develop a survey distributed to 265 third‐trimester women in Phase Two. Phase Three involved a chart review of survey participants to record delivery mode, epidural request and indication. Bivariate and logistic regression analysis of Phases Two and Three data were used to develop predictive models for epidural decision‐making.

Results
Interviews revealed several themes influencing analgesia preferences in Townsville women: concerns regarding personal safety, trust in health professionals, and previous experiences with labour. The logistic regression identified epidural request in labour to be predicted by: primiparity, epidural experience, induction or augmentation of labour, and perceived sense of control associated with epidural use.

Conclusions
This study suggests that the most significant influencers on Townsville women’s epidural decision‐making were parity, induction or augmentation of labour, previous experience of epidurals and attitude toward epidurals.