What is the BRAN analysis?

What is the BRAN analysis? I have heard you speak about this, but I can’t find a simple explanation of what it means that I can share with my clients. Can you help?

Yes I can. I did write about this many years ago in a book for parents which is now out-of-date. I’ll let you know when it is updated but, in the meantime…

The BRAN analysis is a decision-making tool tool that you can use when faced with a decision – including those which you may have to make quite quickly or when under pressure, for example when you are in labour or making a decision about medical treatment.

If you can remember the acronym “BRAN” and what this stands for, you can remember the key sorts of information you need to seek. It works best when you are considering some kind of action or intervention (for example whether you want a particular drug, screening test or intervention such as induction of labour), but the same principles can be applied to other kinds of decisions as well.

The BRAN acronym stands for:

What are the Benefits?

What are the Risks?

What are the Alternatives?

What if I/we do Nothing?

For instance, if someone experienced nausea during their pregnancy and they were offered a drug that might help, using the BRAN acronym to analyse the situation could lead them to ask the following questions:

  • What are the benefits of this drug? What percentage of people does it help?
  • What are the risks of the drug? What are the side effects? What immediate effects will it have on my body? Could it have any long-term impact on me or my baby?
  • What are the alternatives to taking this drug? Are there herbal or other alternative remedies that I could try first?
  • What is likely to happen if I do nothing? Does nausea eventually go away for most women? By what stage in pregnancy, on average?

This book looks in depth at how to use BRAN and lots of other tools that can help women and families consider their birth options and make the decisions that are right for them.

Over the years, different educators have altered and expanded the BRAN acronym to include other important elements of decision-making. One popular expansion turns BRAN into BRAIN, where the ‘I’ stands for Intuition and invites us to consider what our intuition or guts are telling us to do. Other people add an S to make BRANS or BRAINS and, depending on who you hear it from, the S can either remind people to ask with a Smile or that it’s OK to say ‘Scuse me, I need time to think about this and discuss it with my family. (And there are probably more variations; please feel free to share below and I will add them!)

4 comments for “What is the BRAN analysis?

  1. Kate Hargreaves
    August 31, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I use the S to remind people they can ask for a Second opinion.

  2. Tanya Burchell
    April 1, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Hi Sara. In your Gathering in the Knowledge, you had changed it to BRAIN but I cannot remember what the I stood for. Please can you remind me?

  3. Tanya Burchell
    April 1, 2019 at 7:11 am

    Ignore the above, I’ve just seen that you’ve written it! I don’t know how I missed that! Sorry!

  4. Kathryn Kelly
    August 1, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Sara, a while back I was trying to find the originator of this acronym. Is that you? If not, do you remember where you got it from?

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